NEW DELHI: Ahead of Anna Hazare's planned protest against the land acquisition ordinance, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh today said government's step is in no way against the interest of farmers and any such talk is just "propaganda".
"Who will sit on agitation and who won't, I don't know about. But the extent to which I can understand about farmers and their needs, perhaps even Annaji may not be understanding to that extent," Singh said to queries about the proposed protest by the Gandhian activist.
He was speaking on the sidelines of an event organised by the Department of Land Resources.
Asked if he felt that the upcoming amendment bill on land acquisition is in the interest of farmers, Singh said that key provisions had been left untouched.
"In Land Acquisition Act, the provision of four times compensation or that related to rehabilitation and resettlement, we have not touched any of the clauses. All this is just propaganda," he replied.
Hazare, along with farmers' bodies, is scheduled to hold a two-day protest against the ordinance in the national capital on February 23, when the Budget session of Parliament will commence.
The social activist had been sharply critical of the government's move to do away with the provisions of taking consent of a big majority of farmers before acquiring their land.
The ordinance was cleared by Union Cabinet on December 29 and later got the President's assent. It makes significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas -- industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.
Singh earlier attended an event on 'Innovations in Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP)', where Minister of State for Rural Development was also present.
During the event-- a jingle, logo, name and tagline of IWMP were launched. A portal for remote sensing and GIS applications and mobile app named 'drishti' were also inaugurated.
As per officials, the mobile app launched today can be downloaded to an android mobile phone and any user can send pictures and information related to IWMP.
Referring to the application, Singh said that there is a feeling that till "we have proof enabled by technology, we can't be sure whether the work has been done or not. We should instill such trust that the people entrusted to do the work should surpass our expectations".
Speaking on the important role of watershed management, Singh said that it can help in removing inequalities. He said with increase in population, there is a need to find solutions to problems that people are facing.
He said that there is problem of migration in some hilly areas and suggested tha organic farming can be a way of helping the local population.
Referring to Sudarshan Bhagat, MoS in the Rural Development ministry, Singh said he shares a good wavelength with him as "he is also from a rural background and not from an elite school".