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Rediff News  All News  » Business » 'Govt should keep off land acquisition for commercial projects'

'Govt should keep off land acquisition for commercial projects'

November 22, 2010 13:13 IST
Mamata BanerjeeTrinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee expressed reservations on Sunday on the proposed amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and spelt out the kind of clauses she wanted in the bill.

According to Banerjee, acquisition of land for commercial purposes should be left to entrepreneurs and the government should not meddle in that.

However, she suggested the government to take proactive role when land needed for public purposes.

Banerjee, who is also the Railway Minister, said, "When land would be required for expansion of railways, roads and other utilities, the government must initiate dialogue with prospective land losers. If they agree, then only the process of acquisition could be initiated."

She said her party wanted the proposed law to have a definite guideline that land losers should be given back at least 10 per cent of the land taken from them after developing that suitably, apart from the compensation for land.

"With a portion of the developed land in their possession, land losers can start some economic activities to continue their lives," said Banerjee.

She said all these suggestions had been forwarded by her party to the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre for accommodating in the proposed bill. Incidentally, her party does not want the bill to be introduced in Parliament before the state assembly election in West Bengal.

On Sunday night, Banerjee had a one-to-one meeting with Union Finance Minister and senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee at his Kolkata residence.

Referring to the meeting, she said despite speculations about the strained relationship between her party and Congress, TMC remained committed to the UPA government.

The meeting took place in the backdrop of recent spat between West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Manas Bhuiyan and a number of TMC leaders on the Rajarhat land issue.

After Singur and Nandigram, Rajarhat is becoming another flash point, where TMC is trying to corner the ruling Left Front on the issue of land acquisition.

The land in Rajarhat, where a satellite town is being developed by the state government, was acquired during 1999-2001.

Now, Banerjee has raked up the issue, alleging that much of the land was forcibly acquired by the state government from unwilling farmers and fishermen against a nominal compensation.

The pitch was further queered by Bhuiyan when he said as the chairman of the Assessment Committee of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, he had studied the Rajarhat land issue and did not find much wrong in that.

Image: Mamata Banerjee

Rajat Roy in Kolkata