Mumbai: Even as the opposition remains divided over the contentious Land Acquisition Bill, Republican Party of India (Athawale) Chief Ramdas Athawale today said the government cannot acquire a piece of land without the consent of farmers. “Even if the consent clause and the requirement of a social impact assessments before notification of the acquisition is done away with, the consent of farmer (owning the land) is very important. Development cannot happen at the cost of farmers,” Athawale, a Rajya Sabha member, told reporters here.
“The government needs to ensure that if the land acquired by farmers is not put to use within a period of three years, it is returned to the farmer. It is of utmost importance to work in the interest of farmers,” he said. The Lok Sabha last week passed the Land Acquisition Bill with nine amendments, and now faces the real test in the Rajya Sabha, where the government is in minority. Athawale threatened of a state-wide stir if the land inauguration ceremony of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s grand memorial does not take place on the Indu Mills land by April 14.
“The ‘bhoomi poojan’ on Indu Mills land has to be done on April 14. The Prime Minister and the Union Textile Minister have assured me that all paper work of the transfer of land will be done by then. The work of memorial has to be completed in 3 years. We will start a state-wide agitation if the bhoomi poojan does not commence on time,” he said. Speaking on the issue of reservation for the minority community, Athawale said even Hindus from an upper caste who are financially weak should be provided reservation.
“There is nothing wrong in providing reservation to Muslims. At the same time, even Hindus, who may belong to an upper caste, but are economically weak should be given reservation,” he said. On Metro-3 project in Mumbai, he said it will be welcomed if the people, affected by the project, are given a suitable accommodation in the vicinity of their homes.