Gujarat land acquisition bill passed

Furthering the interests of the big monopoly capitalists

The Gujarat Land Acquisition Bill, which was passed in the Gujarat Assembly on March 31, received Presidential assent on August 8. Named the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Bill, 2016,this bill amends many of the terms and conditions of the Central Land Acquisition Act introduced by the UPA government in 2013. It is expected to be implemented from August 15, according to the government announcement.

The newGujarat Land Acquisition Bill eliminates the need for social impact assessment (SIA) for projects related to defence, such as building an air base, defence manufacturing units, and other social sectorprojects which may be categorised as “public purpose”. It removes the need for SIA for acquisition of land for industrial corridors and public-private partnership projects taken up by the government. The amended bill also does away with the requirement of consent of 70% of the landowners for PPP projects, which exists in the central law.

The new law has been justified by the government by saying that it will “facilitate fast-paced growth in the state”.

It may be recalled that after coming to power at the Centre in 2014, the NarendraModi government had brought in amendments to the UPA Land Acquisition Act of 2013.However, the amended bill was met with fierce opposition of peasants and affected people. It could not be passed by the RajyaSabha, following which the bill was dropped and the central government allowed the state governments to amend their laws, if and as they wished. The provisions of the new Gujarat Land Acquisition Bill are practically the same as those of the amended bill that the BJP central government had tried to introduce in 2014, but had to back down due to widespread opposition.

These amendments to the Land Acquisition law are entirely in tune with what the big monopoly capitalists want. The big capitalists want the government to create an even more favourable climate for Indian and foreign capital to invest in setting up various infrastructure projects, industrial corridors, highways and captive townships along them. The want to set up hydroelectric projects in the hill states,projects which are facing widespread opposition from people since they have endangered the livelihood and lives of lakhs of people in those regions and destroyed the fragile environment. The big capitalists want the government to remove all roadblocks to land acquisition for their projects.

The peasants and tribals, the people inhabiting, cultivating and drawing their livelihood from those regions where the land is sought to be acquired, are opposing the land acquisition because they know from past experience that aim of the acquisition of their lands is not to improve their well-being, not to build schools and hospitals and other resources for them, but to ensure maximum profits for the capitalists who are eyeing their lands. They fear, rightly, that their lives will be ruined as a consequence. The whole history of “compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement” by the state shows that the state has always been cruelly indifferent towards ensuring the security of livelihood of the affected people.

The Communist Ghadar Party upholds the position that there is a need for a new land law, based on the principle of harmonising the interests of different users of the land with one another and with the general interest of society. This law must guarantee secure possession of arable land in the hands of those who are tilling it. Land use must be regulated according to a social plan that takes into consideration the needs of agriculture, industry, services, residential and other social needs.

Such a law can be implemented only when the present orientation of the economy is changed. The present orientation of the economy is to ensure maximum profits of the big capitalists. The economy needs to be reoriented towards fulfilling the growing needs of the rural and urban population and ending the discrimination against the rural areas, which is characteristic of capitalism. Real rural development can take place only by continuously raising the standard of living of the rural population. For this, we need to establish the rule of the workers and peasants in place of the present rule of the capitalist class.

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Sep 1-15 2016    Political-Economy    2016   

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