December 5, 2019
Abir Ranjan Biswas speaks on need for reforms against forceful acquisition of agricultural land
Large stretches of agricultural land are converted for non-agricultural use every year. This is done through acquisition of land for supposed public interest.
Most states have bypassed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act and implemented their own Acts leading to watering down of the rights of rural landowners.
In 2006, the West Bengal Government decided to acquire 997 acres (initially 1013 acres were asked for) for a car company in Singur of Hooghly district. On this day, December 4, in 2006, Mamata Banerjee had begun her hunger strike, as part of the Singur Movement, to protest this acquisition.
In 2011, Mamata Banerjee became the Chief Minister of Bengal and announced in her first Cabinet meeting that they will return the 400 acres land to the unwilling farmers of Singur. The historic Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill passed in the Assembly to this effect.
Since then Bengal has brought numerous land reforms to save agricultural lands and the rights of the rural landowners. These initiatives include: Digital upgrading of record rooms; distribution of about 1,281 Nijo Griha Nijo Bhumi (NGNB) pattas; updating of more than 99% of the land maps; delivery of digitally-signed certified copies of record of rights (ROR) in 344 administrative blocks; rehabilitation of 647 refugee families through the Bonhooghly Housing Project.
The Centre should implement land reforms on the line of Bengal Model to protect agricultural lands.