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June 5, 2011

No forcible acquisition, reiterates Chief Minister

No forcible acquisition, reiterates Chief Minister
Kolkata, June 5: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today provided a preview of her land acquisition policy while announcing plans to build embankments in areas hit by Cyclone Aila in May 2009.
She said her government would need to acquire 6,000 acres in the affected parts of the Sunderbans but stressed there would be no forcible acquisition, that market rates would be paid, and that each land-losing family would get a government job.
Even before becoming Chief Minister, Ms Banerjee had made clear that she supports government land acquisition only for public purposes, without use of force and with adequate compensation. As for land acquisition for industry, the government will have no role and companies must negotiate directly with the landowners.
“The land (for embankments) will be acquired to save lives and not for any kind of business. This is a special project. Jomi gele manusher koshto hoy (people suffer when their land is taken away),” Ms. Banerjee said at Writers` Buildings today.
“Land-losers will be paid according to the market rate. One member from each family will get a government job. Those qualified to teach will be given jobs in primary schools. There will be one uniform policy.”
She said the government was considering a proposal to pay the land-losers a monthly compensation.
The Chief Minister said plots would be acquired after a survey to assess land availability and to negotiate with the villagers. The surveyors will include not just district officials but also elected representatives of the area, including gram sabha and panchayat samity members, MLAs and MPs.
“In areas where the panchayat is run by us (Trinamul and ally Congress), we will have our representatives. At places where they (the Opposition) run the panchayats, they will be involved,” Mamata said. The district magistrate and block development officer will be part of the survey team.
“The land policy is being prepared but we have to go ahead with this project,” Mamata Banerjee said, announcing that work on the embankments would start after the rains in November.
“Huge plots are not required for the embankments. A narrow strip of land would do, but it has to run along the river banks,” she said.