Land Acquisition For Projects

Many players in this game- the entrepreneur company, the landowners, the middlemen- environmentalists, human rightists, politicians- both of the ruling and opposition, and many other sympathizers, are creating confusion and social conflicts. And we are to tolerate in the name of the largest democracy.

Let us take the case of Singur. First of all, why is Tata Motors not coming out with technical logics behind the necessity of 1000 acres of land for an assembly plant for 1,00,000 mini-cars (known as Rs 1 Lakh car) per annum? Is the location technically necessary or politically dictated? Why Tata Motors can’t, on its own, move to a land that is not in use for agriculture? Why is Tata Motors using some sort of threat for handing over the land? Why is it not coming out with its plan for rehabilitation or benefits of the people affected? Why is it not participating with the government officials to convince the farmers to hand over the land?

West Bengal government, particularly the CM is doing a wonderful job of convincing the people and obtaining the land by negotiations and quick compensation delivery. However, perhaps in eagerness to get Tatas in Bengal at all cost, Buddha Babu is not demanding some necessary clarifications mentioned above.

As reported, over 70 Trinamul leaders and supporters of the Singur Krishi Jami Bachao committee were arrested, when they were protesting handover of farmland to the Tatas for their small car project. The chief minister can claim that he had gone the extra mile to accommodate the Opposition in the drive to re-industrialise Bengal. The CPM leader ruled out shifting the Tata unit site in Singur to nearby marshy land. But then can someone say ‘why’? Hindustan Motors located near Singur, came up in a marshy land some 60 years ago. Fortunately, there are still no environmentalists, nor middlemen as the CPI (M) cadres in the area are already playing that role. However, the farmers losing their landholdings must get good compensation, as they are getting in Haryana and Punjab.

In case of Orissa and that also of Kalahandi, it is just some people with vested interest are trying to misguide the people there. The land is not fertile. The region is famous for draught and deaths. If the farmers are getting good compensation and are getting assurance for employment or participating through share offers, there can’t be a better option than leaving the land for the factory. However, when the country celebrates Dussehra, Kalahandi in Orissa will witness a huge protest against the Vedanta industrial project. Villagers and environmentalists fear (as claimed) it would do more harm than good without any logic. The local leaders with vested interest will collect a crowd of thousands of tribals and will take to the streets to demonstrate their strength for bargaining. An organization named Green Kalahandi has been opposing the plant on several grounds. It claims, it would divert water of the Tel River away from irrigation, causing destruction of environment, cultural degradation and pave the path for droughts. And this is when Vedanta has already spent over Rs 3,100 crore on the construction, and the project is likely to be commissioned by the year-end.

Why can’t these protests be avoided and an agreed policy be followed that takes care of the interests of those who are losing their lands and residences? All these developments may be very much democratic, but ultimately the poors are losers too.

A Good Writeup
How not to displace people by Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar

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