BHUBANESWAR: The BJD government, which acquired land for several private industries suppressing public protests, is opposing the land acquisition amendment bill tabled in Parliament on the pretext that peoples' wish must be respected.
BJD parliamentary party leader in Lok Sabha Bhartruhari Mahtab said he met home minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday and discussed his party's stand on the bill. "We are opposing dilution of the consent clause in the bill. If people are not willing, there is no point acquiring their land," he said.
The last 15 years of BJD rule in Odisha has witnessed several violent protests against acquisition of land by the government for private companies.
At least 12 tribals were killed in police firing during the land acquisition process for the Tata steel project at Kalinganagar in 2006. For the proposed Posco project near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district, police forces were used several times to suppress the continuing resistance by locals.
Leader of Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), spearheading the anti-land acquisition agitation, Abhaya Sahoo, was incarcerated several times.
Similar had been the story behind land acquisition for Vedanta refinery project at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district where local tribals opposed mining of Niyamgiri hills for bauxite. At Athagarh in Cuttack district, villagers had been on agitation, opposing acquisition of lands for KBK Neelachal Power Plant, which has since moved the Supreme Court.
"The BJD is opposing the bill for the sake of opposition without any sincerity. It reeks of double standards as the BJD government muzzled people's movements to acquire land for private companies," said Narayan Sahoo, an anti-land acquisition campaigner for KBK Neelachal project.
"Odisha has a history of successful movements against forcible acquisition of land. A responsive government should not go against people's opinion," Mahtab told TOI. He defended his government's move to acquire lands for Posco and Tata, saying 'only encroachers were removed and lands of willing people acquired'.
The amendment bill, 'The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill-2015', has done away with assessment and consent of 80% affected people for acquisition of land in five sectors like national security, defence, rural infrastructure, industrial corridors and housing for the poor.
Mahatab said his party also wants clarity on quantum of land to be acquired for any project for 'impact assessment' study.