CHENNAI: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday opposed the Chapter III of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, stating that it takes away important safeguards that farmers and agriculture require.
“The farmers in the State are strongly opposed to the provisions which empower State Governments to exempt specified projects from the application of Chapter III of the Act. Hence, these provisions in the Amendment Bill are unacceptable to Tamil Nadu government. I urge the Government of India not to press these amendments,” the Chief Minister said in her speech sent to the meeting.
In her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who chaired the meeting of the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog at New Delhi, Jayalalithaa expressed her inability to attend the meeting due to pressing official work. Though she was intended to depute senior Minister O Panneerselvam to the meeting, it was conveyed to her that she alone could attend the meeting and nobody else could deputise. As such, she had sent the printed copy of her speech and requested the Prime Minister to take on record the views of the Tamil Nadu government.
Jayalalithaa recalled that the AIADMK had voted in favour of the Amendment Bill when it was put to vote in the Lok Sabha on March 10 since the Centre had accepted the Tamil Nadu government’s suggestion of excluding acquisition for private hospitals and private educational institutions from the purview of the Amendment.
“Since the Amendment Bill conferred powers on the State governments to exempt specified projects from the application of the provisions of Chapter III of the Act, in the full knowledge and understanding that the AIADMK government, which had always strongly acted in favour of the welfare of farmers, small traders and the marginalised in society, would never have put the clause to use, the Amendment was supported,” she observed and said that however, the farmers in the State were strongly opposing this provision. Jayalalithaa also recalled that she had taken a similar stand that FDI in retail would not be allowed in the State even though the previous UPA regime had made necessary enabling provisions.
The Chief Minister also pointed out that as far as the status of implementation of the Act was concerned, many states were yet to formulate rules under the Act, notify the multiplication factor for determination of compensation in rural areas, and notify the extent of land purchased through private negotiation which would trigger the Rehabilitation and Resettlement provisions contained in the Act. “Only after the final contours of the Act become clear would we be in a position to notify the rules and issue other related notifications”, she added.
Stating that her government’s principled and consistent stand on the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and proposed amendments to the Act would be given due consideration, the Chief Minister exuded confidence that the Centre would take an appropriate decision respecting the widespread sentiments of a broad spectrum of public opinion. “This would not only be in keeping with democratic conventions and traditions but also in the interest of the farmers and food security in the country.” Jayalalithaa said the stance of the Tamil Nadu government was based on the twin pillars of the need to preserve State autonomy within our federal structure and to protect the interests of agriculture and of our farmers.
The Chief Minister also recalled that Tamil Nadu government had already pointed out that the Bill had exceeded its legislative competence under the Constitution and had encroached on the legislative competence of State governments. “This is unfortunate and undesirable. Land is a State subject under Entry 18 of List II of the Seventh Schedule. States are much closer to the people and hence the Constitution makers logically provided for the State Governments to deal with matters connected with land,” she added.