India Against Corruption
MISGIVINGS ON MODI GOVERNMENT'S LAND ACQUISITION BILL JUSTIFIED
There is the fundamental question as to whether taking away the agricultural land for setting up industry or housing projects is appropriate in a country like India, which is essentially an agriculture oriented economy and particularly when agriculture operations provide jobs to millions of people at unskilled and semi skilled level in the densely populated country. More than 75% of country's population constitute peasants and tribals, who have only traditional skill in agricultural operations.
Modi government appears to think that industrial activity is as important as agricultural activity and converting some agricultural land for industrial projects is inevitable , if the country were to sustain economic growth to the desired level. Government further argues that it has put several safeguards to ensure that land acquisition would be for appropriate projects only and will not result in undue benefit for corporate houses.
The question is whether Modi government has exhausted all the options for identifying the available unutilized land for industrial and development projects , that can avoid taking away the land from agricultural operations. One gets the impression that the government has not done this exercise adequately so far.
There are thousands of acres of industrial land presently occupied by many industries, where only a portion of the land is utilized and other land remains unused. There are many sick projects which has been remaining closed with hundreds of acres of land that are not presently put to any use. There are many educational institutions with hundreds of acres of land , where only a few acres are utilized. There are also land where the site is not suitable for agricultural operations. The government is not known to have enumerated such unutilized land available in the country. The government cannot say today that the country does not have such unutilized and wasted land.
Amongst the existing industries and in special economic zones , the government should conduct a land auditing to identify the unused land and force the industries to give up such land for setting up new projects. This is possible.
The genuine question is why agricultural land should be taken away without putting the unutilized and wasted land for use for setting up industrial projects.
Should the interest of agriculture be sacrificed for the sake of industrial growth is a very valid question. People cannot live without food but they can live without cosmetics and automobiles.
Industrial growth should be complimentary to the agricultural growth and it cannot be allowed to become a substitute for agricultural growth even to a limited extent. Such move is bad in principle and contrary to the sentiments of large section of the country men.
Above all, the potentials for exploiting agricultural operations for India's economic growth with equanimity is no less than what industrial operations can achieve for the country.
Modi government appears to have erred in moving land acquisition bill.
Nandini Voice For The Deprived
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