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Posted on 12 August 2011

Learning lessons from the neighborhood

After Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, resident’s of Delhi’s 360 villages are demanding the abolition of the Delhi Land Reforms Act 1954.

Arpit Parashar
New Delhi

Mathura MP Jayant Chaudhary speaking at the farmers' meet organised by the Delhi Grameen Samaj in New Delhi

Mathura MP Jayant Chaudhary speaking at the farmers' meet organised by the Delhi Grameen Samaj in New Delhi

Photo: Soumik Mukherjee

After Uttar Pradesh and Haryana now the villagers of Delhi have decided to protest against the acquisition of land in the National Capital with the support of farmers from the neighbouring states. Leaders from almost all of the 360 villages of Delhi have decided to launch protests in various parts of the capital for abolition of the Delhi Land Reforms Act 1954.

At a meeting of the farmers organised by the non governmental organisation (NGO) Delhi Grameen Samaj (DGS) on Thursday, Member of Parliament from Mathura Jayant Chaudhary urged the farmers to unite and form a single front to fight for changes in the new draft of the Land Acquisition Act 1894. Chaudhary has introduced a Private Member’s Bill on land acquisition in the Lok Sabha recently. “Even the new draft of the proposed (Land Acquisition) bill does not have enough safeguards for the farmers and leaves them open to exploitation. It will have to be changed significantly to make sure the farmers get their due,” he said.

Farmer unions from UP and Haryana also took part in the meeting and have decided to extend full support to the DGS. The Haryana wing of the Kisan Sangharsh Morcha is now organising a mahapanchayat in Mewat where Anna Hazare, Swami Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi, Arvind Kejriwal and Medha Patkar are expected to share the stage with farmer leaders and push for the Jan Lokpal Bill as well as for a new Land Acquisition Bill.


Land Wars
Land Wars II
Land Wars III

The DGS members also plan to approach the newly appointed Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and submit their suggestions. They have invited suggestions from all farmers on what clauses the proposed Bill should include. “It is important for us to have all the thoughts on the new draft so we are distributing copies of it to farmers across Delhi and asking people to log on to the website of the (Rural Development) ministry to read it,” said Ved Lohiya, one of the members of the DGS.

Farmers in Delhi are now demanding that all the unused land acquired by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) be returned to the farmers and that compensation be paid to the farmers for all land acquired since 1947. Significantly, representatives from all the major parties in Delhi were present at the meeting and expressed support to the movement. They alleged that the DDA has been used by the bureaucrats to mint money by selling farmers’ land to the builders and developers and demanded that the authority be brought directly under the Delhi government to hold it accountable on all land sales and acquisitions.

The farmers have also come up with a deadline—October 23—for the government to accept their demands and said that they would launch protests across the Capital until every one of their demands is met.

The farmers also alleged that the promised flats and land in return for the acquisition of their land has not been paid by the DDA in the past 30 years. They now plan to raise the demand for at least 35 percent reservation for the farmers on any housing schemes that will be developed by the DDA.

Defending the demands of the farmers, Colonel (retd) Devinder Sehrawat, Secretary of the DGS, said, “It is important to keep in mind that the land that is bought from the farmers has a market value too. Yet the farmers do not sell it. But when it is acquired for a particular government project the farmers get a miniscule amount compared to the market rate. It is important that a farmer gets a fair share either in the property being developed along with a decent compensation.”

Sehrawat says farmers on whose land South Delhi was developed sold their land at meager rates of Rs 3-10 per acre over the past 30 years. “They deserve to receive compensation that is at least comparable to market rates. The land policy of the government does not say anything about it; neither does it involve the farmer in the land development process so that they also reap benefits of growing market rates.”

The DGS is now encouraging the farmers to approach the courts with their individual cases to get relief. “The governments have done nothing till now and will not do anything in the near future either. It is best to approach the judiciary, which understands the plight of the farmers,” said Satya Prakash Rana, MLA from Bijwasan.

Arpit Parashar is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.com
[email protected]

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Posted on 12 August 2011



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