Mysuru: Dubbing the amendments proposed by the state government to the Land Acquisition Act ‘anti-farmer’, activists of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) on 28th February staged a protest in front of the Mysuru deputy commissioner’s office, and submitted a memorandum addressed to Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala, requesting him not to approve the proposed changes to the legislation.
The protesters said that the state government must recall the proposed amendments, and convene a meeting of all stakeholders and hold a nuanced discussion on the subject. The protest was led by KRRS president Badagalapura Nagendra, and the activists vented their angst at being left out of the discussions. “The coalition government did not even table the amendments for discussion in the assembly owing to the din in the house following the controversy surrounding ‘audiogate’. Besides not talking to stakeholders, the government did not talk to the elected representatives about the amendments,” said the protesters
According to the newly-amended bill, exemptions have been made for certain projects vital to national security, defence, irrigation, drinking water projects, etc. With this, the state aims to grow at a fast rate.
The government has taken up various mega projects in the infrastructure and communication sectors, while construction of national highways, new railway lines and drinking water projects have been sanctioned. “All those projects require that land be made available soon, or there will be escalation in costs and benefits of development will be stalled,” the amendment bill copy said.
The protesters pointed out that laws pertaining to land acquisition had been altered during the years when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was in power at the Centre. “It came about after protest that lasted for decades. Land acquisition laws that had been in place till then dated back to the Colonial days when the British administrators would acquire land acting on their whims and fancies. Although the government retained the right to acquire farm land for public purposes, it was mandated that those losing land must be fairly compensated and their families taken care of. Land acquisition laws came with strict provisos, which the state government is looking to dilute,” said the protesters.
The proposed changes to the legislation also threatened food security, the activists said, alleging that they favoured industrialists and the real estate sector. “The governor must not approve these alterations,” they said.