Rahul calls on PM over UP land acquisition row

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 27 2010, 04:28am hrs
Calling land acquisition a big issue, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday led a delegation of party leaders and farmers to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, demanding that the rehabilitation and resettlement policy of Haryana government be sent to other states for consideration and adoption.

The Prime Minister told the delegation that the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill will be brought in Parliament in the next session.

Gandhi will be travelling to the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa to meet those protesting against a proposed bauxite mining project of the Vedanta group on Thursday. The project is denied clearance by the environment ministry.

What we saw in Aligarh was extremely unfair. We need to have a view on it, Gandhi told reporters. He had visited Aligarh to meet farmers protesting against inadequate compensation for land acquired by the state for a hi-tech city along the Yamuna Expressway.

Asked about Mamata Banerjees opposition to the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, Gandhi said: I am aware of it. It (Bill) is very important. To the same question though, Digvijay Singh, AICC general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, said: Discussions can be held with Mamata Banerjee. If there could be consensus on the nuclear liability Bill, it can be done on the land acquisition Bill also. There are minor points of difference with Mamata Banerjee on this and some compromise can be worked out.

Singh alleged that the Mayawati government was misusing the land acquisition Act to acquire land from farmers through intimidation and unilateral agreements. He claimed that from Noida to Agra, all villages located within 10 km of the expressway have been notified.

The state government is taking under the table five times more than what farmers are getting, alleged Singh, demanding that the UP government follow the Haryana model of resettlement and rehabilitation, viz., compensation fixed at market price of land, payment of Rs 30,000 per acre for 33 years, job to a family member, etc.

Asked about the Congress stance on the Rashtriya Lok Dal call for gherao of Parliament on Thursday to demand alteration in the land acquisition Act, Singh said the Congress would not be a part of it. He had spoken to Ajit Singh and told him that that the Congress would support the RLD if it called for a gherao of the UP Assembly.