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Mann Ki Baat: Land bill not anti-farmer, asserts Modi

New Delhi, Reaching out to farmers on the issue of land acquisition bill, Prime Minister Narendra on Sunday said that “lies” are being spread over the measure for “political reasons” to create confusion among the farming community.
Speaking on the issue over radio in his monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme, he insisted there were some “lacunae” in the Land Act of 2013 “as it was enacted in a hurry” and these are being addressed while protecting the interests of farmers and villages.
Referring to his statement in Parliament, Modi maintained that the government is willing to consider any changes in the bill that would be beneficial for the farmers.
He made a veiled attack on Congress, saying “those projecting themselves as sympathisers of farmers and undertaking protests” had been using a 120-year-old law to acquire farm land for over 60-65 years after Independence and were now targeting his government which is “trying to improve upon the Act of 2013″.
During the 30-minute programme, he underlined that the new bill being brought by his government has the same compensation provisions as in the 2013 Act and emphatically rejected that the new measure was aimed at benefiting the corporates.
He also said that ‘no consent’ provision in the proposed new law applies to acquisitions by government for government or PPP projects and insisted that the same clause exists in the previous Act.
“I am surprised that all kinds of misinformation is spread,” he said, focusing on the issue over which his government has come under severe attack and united the opposition parties.
“In the Act of 2013 there were certain lacunae… Our attempt is to address these lacunae to ensure that the law is beneficial for villagers, farmers, their future generations and to ensure they get electricity and water,” he said.
“I said in Parliament also that even now if somebody feels that something is still lacking, we are ready to make improvements.
“Our commitment is to ensure benefits for farmers through the Land Acquisition Act..So many lies are being spread..It is my fervent appeal to farmers not to make decisions on the basis of these lies. Don’t be misled,” he said, adding, “You trust me, I will not betray your trust.”
Specifically referring to the consent clause issue, he said misinformation is being spread for “political reasons”.
Modi said the enactment of Land Acquisition law in 2013 during UPA tenure was done in a “hurried” manner and BJP, which was in opposition at that time, had supported it for the sake of farmers.
“If anything is done in a hurry, some lacunae remain. May be the intent was not wrong but lacunae are there which need to be corrected. I am not levelling any allegations against the previous government as to what it wanted or not wanted. “Our intention is only to see that farmers benefit, their children benefit, villages benefit. So if there are any lacunae in the law, these must be addressed. This is our priority,” the Prime Minister said.
To buttress his point about lacunae in the Act of 2013, he said when the law was implemented, it was realised that “perhaps farmers have been cheated. We have no right to cheat the farmers.”He said when his government came, there were “voices” which said the law needs to be changed and improved upon. “These voices came from states” he said.
It was also noticed that for a year after being enacted, the law was not implemented, Modi said.“States like Maharashtra and Haryana, where Congress was in power and who claim to be the sympathisers of farmers, implemented it but gave half the compensation than prescribed in the law,” he said.
The prime minister said he was pained to hear about farmers losing their yield due to rain or not getting fertilizers on time or being forced to drink dirty water. He said he felt sad about such happenings.“When I thought of doing ‘Mann Ki Baat’ with farmers, I did not imagine these many questions would be asked,” he said.“I was amazed to know how active and aware you are… I learnt about your pain after reading your letters,” he said, assuring them of making the government more sensitive towards rural India.(Source- www.newsroompost.com)