Modi connects to farmers, allays fears over land bill

Modi--621x414In a spirited outreach to farmers and villagers, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged them not to be misled by ‘rumours and lies’ over the controversial land bill and stressed that these are being spread for “political reasons”.

Addressing the Land Bill issue over radio in his monthly national address ‘Mann ki Baat (Speaking your mind)’ programme, the prime minister pointed out that there were “lacunae” in the Land Act of 2013 which was enacted in a hurry, and promised a reformed legislation which will protect the interests of farmers. “We are working on a reformed bill while protecting the interests of farmers and villagers,” he said.

“Shall I tell you about the biggest lacuna in the 2013 bill? You too will be surprised at knowing it…

He said that the “biggest lacuna” in the 2013 Act was that 13 areas of government activity, like railways, national highways and mining, for which maximum land needs to be acquired, were kept out of its ambit. It meant that that the compensation for acquiring land for any purpose would be paid on the basis of the 120-year-old law.

“Our attempt is to address these lacunae to ensure that the law is beneficial for villagers, farmers, and their future generations and to ensure they get electricity and water,” he said.

In defending the Land Bill, he said, “Those projecting themselves as sympathisers of farmers and undertaking protests” have been using a 120-year-old law to acquire farm land for over 60-65 years after Independence and were now targeting his government which is “trying to improve upon the Act of 2013.

“Tell me brothers and sisters, do we want the children of our farmers be compelled to settle in the slums of Mumbai and Delhi,” Mr Modi asked, while making a case for industrialisation in rural areas.

During the 30-minutes programme, he emphasised that the new Land Bill launched by his government has the same compensation provisions as the one of 2013 Act, and reiterated that the government is willing to consider any changes in the new bill for the benefits of farmers.

“Our intention is only to see that farmers benefit, their children benefit, villages benefit. So if there are any lacunae in the law, these must be addressed. This is our priority,” the prime minister assured.

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