Land

  • Landless farmers vs industrial workers

    Land Policy Is the Asom Government violating its own land policy resolutions by taking up a policy of giving settlement of Government khas agricultural and ceiling surplus lands to the industrial workers ignoring the interest of the indigenous people of the State? By our Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, Feb 21: This question has been raised by the Purbanchal Nagarik Samity (PNS), an apex body of various citizens' fora of upper Asom. The PNS is of the view that such a calculated step on the part of the State Government to deprive the indigenous agricultural workers has been motivated by its desire to appease the tea garden workers so as to get their support. Even though Asom has 69 lakh acres of agricultural land and 1.35 lakh acres of ceiling surplus land acquired till 1975, about 2.29 lakh agrarian families are completely landless and homeless, while 1.8 lakh families are with less than eight bighas of land and 2.86 lakh families are with less than five bighas of land till September, 1969. This was stated in the resolution of the Government Land Policy, 1972 published on July 21, 1972. According to the citizens' bodies, the State Government itself admitted in its policy paper in 1975 that the problem of landless cultivators was increasing day by day, while in the Government Land Policy of 1989 the Government lamented that during the last 16 years land settlement could not be given to genuine beneficiaries. Thus the Government has recommended for settlement of ceiling surplus lands to agriculturists expeditiously, they pointed out. "Although the State Government, in its 1989 Land Policy, banned the transfer of agricultural lands to non-agriculturists and industries, the Government itself has with impunity been violating its own land policy resolutions and taken up a policy of allotting Government khas agricultural and ceiling surplus lands to the industrial labourers since 2001,' the PNS resolution said. It also said that to expedite such settlement of land, the Government had also formed high-power committees in each district in March, 2007. "However, the poor indigenous agriculturists are left at the mercy of God even during calamities, with more than two lakh families being landless and homeless, and their number increasing every passing day,' said the resolution adopted at a meeting of the PNS in Dibrugarh. Though the land policy of 1968 itself declared a ban on transfer of agricultural lands to non-agriculturists, which was also repeated in the Land Policy Document of 1972, the Government officials have started issuing circulars to allot land to ex-tea garden workers, said Ajoy Baruah, joint secretary of the PNS and general secretary of the Dibrugarh Nagarik Sangha, while talking to The Sentinel. In this regard, Baruah pointed out the land policy adopted by the State Government in 1989 (published in the Assam Gazette on August 23, 1989), where it has been clearly stated: "All allotment of land for ordinary cultivation will be made with the indigenous landless cultivators, that is the persons who actually cultivate the land themselves.' The PNS further said the industrial labourers, who are neither contributors nor beneficiaries, and not residents of revenue villages, have been injudiciously included in the Panchayati Raj system. The PNS is of the opinion that such a step has further complicated the very concept of the Panchayati Raj. The apex body of the upper Asom citizens' fora, in an initiative to mobilize public opinion against the alleged injudicious policy adopted by the State Government, has taken a move to hold a State-level convention in association with the Asom Jatiya Mahasabha and the Senior Citizens' Council of Guwahati.

  • Sylhet chamber chooses lands for special economic zone

    Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) has selected 1,000 acres of land for setting up an special economic zone in order to attract investment especially from the non-resident Sylheties. The special economic zone, adjacent to Fenchuganj-Tamabil Bypass Road Link, will provide land and other infrastructural facilities to the entrepreneurs to set up manufacturing and other industrial units. "We will submit the proposal to the government for acquiring the land,' said SCCI President Junnun Mahmud Khan. He said the chamber has completed a feasibility study on setting up a special economic zone or an industrial park in Sylhet division from where a large number of expatriates are living mainly in the UK and USA. The SCCI has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BBCCI) in 2006. Under the deal, the BBCCI will bring together the non-resident Sylheties to invest in the economic zone. It is expected that 65 percent land of the zone will be provided to the expatriates. According to the feasibility study, Sylhet has available land, abundant natural and forest resources to set up an economic zone or industrial park. There is an ample scope to increase production of various agricultural commodities. In Sylhet division, there is also scope to increase fish production through undertaking aggressive programmes and activities. Sylhet has economically significant storage of minerals for industrialisation. Natural gas, limestone, sand stone and sand, glass sand and coal are available in this region. Some supports should be provided to the non-resident Sylheties to encourage investment. The supports include investment security, one-stop services cell for registration, licensing and regulatory formalities, prompt and easy access to physical infrastructure like plots and utility connections, access to institutional support for identification of the reliable and good local partners, strong access to business support services such as banks, insurance and shipping, easy access to reliable expert and consulting services, access to amenities and recreation facilities, and cargo shed and jet fueling station in Sylhet airport, the study said. In the economic zone, there will be scope for establishing power plants, agro processing units, re-rolling mills and steel casting mills, said Nasim Hussain, senior vice-president of SCCI. As the seven sister states of India are very near from Sylhet, the entrepreneurs or the investors will have an easy access to the seven sisters to export their products, he said. "We are hoping to get a huge response from the Sylheti expatriates,' he added. Sarwar@thedailystar.net

  • Mangalore SEZ fate to be decided on Thursday

    The state government has said the Centre has been satisfied with the outcome of the public hearing regarding the Mangalore special economic zone (MSEZ) and a final meeting on the crucial environmental management plan (EMP) of the project has been fixed for February 28. "If we get the approval after the Thursday's hearing, work can start on the project,' Karnataka Governor's advisor Krishna Kumar informed Deccan Herald. The meeting will be held by the technical committee of the Expert Committee for Infrastructure Development and Miscellaneous Project, set up by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The farmers have been opposing the acquisition of land. They have urged the Government to reject the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) report on the project. According to the advisor, a total of 1,750 acre, out of the 2500 acre needed for the SEZ, has already been acquired. "The government has issued notification for 300 acre for acquisition. We are discussing the issue with the farmers,' he added. On the public hearing, Krishna Kumar said the Union ministry has prepared the report on the EIA of the project and circulated it to the gram panchayats. "The GPs wanted the copies in Kannada and we have translated and given these copies. The ministry has concluded that the public hearings were held as per law. The meetings were held in January and February. Now the technical committee will hear the EMP. If we get the approval after the meeting, we can start work on the project. We have come a long way in the last 2-3 months regarding this multi-product SEZ,' Kumar stated. Promoters The Rs 35,000 crore SEZ is being set up by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) as anchor co-promoter using a special purpose vehicle owned by its subsidiary Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL), which will hold a 46 per cent stake. The other equity-holders are the Karnataka Government, Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited. ONGC would hold 26 per cent of the equity in the incorporated company. The State government would hold 23 per cent and the balance 51 per cent would be jointly owned by KCCI and IL&FS. The New Mangalore Port Trust (NMPT) is understood to have shown interest to join the SEZ, subject to approval from the Ministry of Shipping, Road and Transport. If NMPT joins, the combined equity of KIADB and NMPT would be 23 per cent. The MRPL has envisaged projects such as an LNG terminal, C2-C3 separation units and aromatic and olefin complexes in the petrochemical component of the SEZ. The SEZ will also include a refinery, a power plant, a gas terminal and a pipeline.

  • Land Acquisition Bill opposed

    The Himalayan Policy Campaign Committee, an umbrella organisation of various environmental groups, voluntary organisations and NGOs based in the Himalayan region has requested the Lok Sabha Standing Committee on Rural development to defer the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007 and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, 2007. The committee while giving certain suggestions to be incorporated in the Bills has demanded that specialist NGOs and peoples groups on environmental issues should also be consulted. The governing body of the HPCC in a representation to the Chairman of Standing Committee Mr. Kalyan Singh has demanded that the Land Acquisition Act should be repealed since it leads to a disruption in the eco-systems. And when the ecosystems are damaged, destroyed or altered, it affects not only the communities and their livelihoods in the immediate vicinity but also downstream communities. Corporate rights The HPCC while raising the issue of corporate rights versus community rights said the later should be given preference since it is the community which was dependent on the natural resources and has natural rights on them from the time immemorial. Increasingly governments around the world are treating the notion of objectives of corporations as equal to national interest. This is grossly incorrect, says the HPCC. Any project that is decided on the merit of profit cannot be in national interest but in the interest of shareholders of a corporation. Therefore, national interest should be restricted to only security concerns, demanded the NGO. The HPCC is objecting to rampant construction of hydro electric projects in Himachal Pradesh and other hill States from a long time now.

  • Protest against survey for Science City

    Land survey taken up for construction of a Science City in Amadagur and Obuladevaracheruvu mandals in Anantapur district has become controversial. The survey works were recently handed over to the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC). Eight teams from the APIIC have taken up land survey in Amadagur mandal. While the Congress leaders are responding favourably to the survey, the Telugu Desam leaders are raising several objections. They staged a rasta roko and dharna in Amadagur two days ago, protesting against land acquisition for the project. There are 42,897 acres in Amadagur mandal with 7,000 survey numbers. There are 9,630.26 acres for 1,520 survey numbers in Tummala village, 1,568.83 acres of land in Yerigivaripalle and a similar extent of land in Pulukuntapalli. Survey is also being taken up in Lokojupalli, Karimireddypalli, Dademvaripalli, Amadagur, Sikirevulapalli, Chinaganipalli, Kassamudram, Mahmadabad, J.K.Palli, Koragattupalli and other villages. Congress leaders say that most farmers are ready to sell their lands while TD leaders deny this.

  • NLC to pay Rs 5 lakh per acre of land acquired

    In a major breakthrough, the district administration has solved a long-pending land acquisition problem plaguing the public sector Neyveli Lignite Corporation. Collector Rajendra Ratnoo has achieved this feat here today at a daylong marathon tripartite meeting, involving revenue officials, NLC management and people affected by the land acquisition. As per the agreement, the NLC management has come forward to distribute Rs 5 lakh per acre of land as compensation to the affected people. People in the peripheral villages were protesting against the NLC move to acquire land in the region where NLC had been distributing a compensation of Rs 80,000 and above for an acre. They wanted the NLC to hike the compensation as land value had increased significantly. Residents had demanded that the State Government intervene and had staged agitations on sever al occasions. Many rounds of talks between the NLC management, local residents and district administration were conducted but in vain. The president of the Federation of Cuddalore District Farmers Associations V Venkatapathi and secretary Karmangudi S Venkatesan have expressed deep gratitude to the district administration for solving the vexed issue pending for over a decade. Among others DRO Natarajan, 18 representatives from 14 peripheral villages and NLC officials including DGM (Land Acquistion) Palani have participated. TRADE UNION POLL:The stage has been set for a major battle among trade unions in the public sector Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) on Feb 28.

  • HMT land sale legal, says State government

    Affidavit says HMT not legally bound to get sanction HMT Limited is legally entitled to deal with its 100 acres of land at Kalamassery in Ernakulam and the assignment of 70 acres of the land to a Mumbai-based company would not be invalid or illegal either for want of consent from the government or for non-utilisation of the land for industrial purpose, according to an affidavit filed by the State government before the Kerala High Court. The affidavit was filed before the court on Tuesday in response to a writ petition seeking a CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] probe into the HMT land deal and to resume the 100 acres in HMT's possession. The affidavit contended that the 70 acres sold by HMT formed part of the 100 acres of land for which permanent exemption had been granted by the government under Section 81(1) (a) of the Kerala Land Reforms Act. As such, HMT was not legally bound to obtain sanction or consent from the State government before selling the land. The allegation that Industries Minister Elamaram Karim had supported the sale of land at a meeting convened on June 6, 2007 was absolutely incorrect, the affidavit said. The meeting was convened to sort out a labour problem which had been pending for long in HMT. Mr. Karim had been trying his best, in his capacity as Minister, to augment the development of industries in the State and to see that infrastructure facilities were provided for entrepreneurs. All actions taken by the Minister in this regard were in compliance with the guidelines prescribed in the industrial and commercial policy of 2007. For creating a very good industrial climate and sending out a message that the situation in the State was very conducive for investment, the Minster had initiated steps for sorting out the labour problem in the company. The affidavit said the 70 acres sold by HMT did not come within the area of land ordered to be surrendered by HMT as per an order of the Kanayannur taluk land board. The affidavit said that HMT had absolute right, title and ownership of the land. HMT was fully competent to transfer the 100 acres or part of it to any person without the permission of the government. Therefore, the sale was perfectly in accordance with the law.

  • Drop any scheme that warrants land acquisition, says CPI

    State secretary of Communist Party of India (CPI) D. Pandian has urged the State government to drop any scheme that involved acquisition of land and demolition of houses. Speaking at a meeting at Sholinganallur on Wednesday, he said that the Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) had proposed the demolition of many houses constructed on

  • Sonia hailed for relief to farmers

    Dressed in traditional attire and accompanied by musicians beating drums, a large number of senior Delhi Congress leaders met party president Sonia Gandhi at her 10 Janpath residence here on Wednesday to thank her for enhancing the compensation payable to farmers on acquisition of their land from Rs.25 lakh per acre to Rs.75 lakh per acre. Led by Outer Delhi MP Sajjan Kumar, the delegation also lauded the permission granted to farmers -- through the new Master Plan for Delhi-2021

  • Unions oppose land acquisition

    The unions of public sector units are opposed to entrusting land belonging to AP Steel Factory to private agencies for developing it. The land is located in Paloncha town and several private companies vied for it. It is valued at over Rs 100 crore. The workers union of Sponge Iron India Limited has been demanding that the government allocate the land for the expansion of Sponge Iron India Limited. Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation acquired the land in survey numbers 442, 443, 444 in Paloncha to set up a steel factory when Jalagam Vengala Rao was the chief minister. SIIL Officers Union leader K. Gopi Krishna said that the Central government is making efforts to merge the SIIL with National Mineral Development Corporation. He said additional land would be needed for the expansion of SIIL after merging it with NMDC. "Thousands of jobs would be created with the expansion,' he said. SIIL has sent proposals for setting up another sponge iron unit with a capacity of two lakh tonnes at a cost of Rs 320 crore, a captive power plant with a capacity of 45mw, induction furnace and casting machine to the government for ratification. SIIL was incurring losses till 2002 and has been earning profits for the last four years. Because of the development, NMDC planned to merge it and expand it. The increasing demand for sponge iron is also one of the reasons for the expansion of SIIL. SIIL Supervisors Association president D. Chennamallu said, "The workers wanted to shape Paloncha into a steel town by expanding SIIL.' He said the unions would oppose any gesture of handing over the land to real estate companies. Indian National Trade Union Congress leader Shaik Jaleel said the unions decided to submit a memorandum on the issue to the Chief Minister soon in Hyderabad. "The SIIL would get a boost if the land is given for expansion,' he said.

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