The Congress may be running down the governance template of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, but it wants the Centre to emulate her land acquisition policy. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh , who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday, wanted the Centre’s proposed legislation to be an improved version of the UP policy. The policy announced by the UP government in the wake of Congresssponsored protests in Greater Noida and Agra is seen as lucrative as it ensures a seller’s market for farmers.
Under the new policy, the state government’s role as a middleman in the sale is removed and farmers are entitled to market rates for their land. It be recalled that many state governments are facing the fury of farmers as they are offered below-market rates for land that are being handed over to industry. After the unveiling of the UP policy, Maywati had said that her party would “force the Centre to adopt the same land acquisition policy” . The Congress , which had upped the ante over the issue, now fears that any major deviation from the UP policy could lead to a loss of face for the government. The formulation of a land acquisition policy is not going to be easy for the government as it will have to reconcile the concerns of its allies as well as the industry.
The views of the NAC headed by Sonia Gandhi seems to be more in line with the stand taken by populist allies of the UPA. The NAC is against the government getting into the business of acquiring land for the private sector. The NAC recommendations also include giving farmers the right to annuity for a certain number of years over and above the compensation for the land acquired from him. The council has also suggested giving monthly pay outs to farmers instead of annual pay outs. The NAC has suggested that 75 per cent of the farmers and gram sabhas should give their consent in writing for acquiring their land for development projects. It implies that the rest 25 per cent will have to follow suit. Economic Times