Government defends self in debate on Agrarian crisis

Rajat Kain

RajyaSabha_PTIThe issue of deep agrarian crisis within the country was strongly debated in Rajya Sabha as it resumed the business on Monday. The resumption of debate led to the opposition parties collectively taking on Narendra Modi government for bringing in an Ordinance on the on Land Acquisition bill. They once again termed the ordinance as ‘anti-farmer’.

Apprising the upper house of the initiatives taken by the government, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that “Narendra Modi government is firmly behind farmers”.

Replying to the questions raised by opposition members, Singh cited many policies and initiatives taken by the centre to safeguard farmers.

Earlier questioning the government over its policy on agriculture, Sitaram Yechury said “There is such a deep crisis in agriculture sector due to unseasonal rains, droughts and even natural calamities. And now the government has brought in this ordinance on land acquisition.”

“The CAG has given a report that 53% of land acquired for SEZ has been lying unutilised. The law says any land remaining unutilised for over five years has to be returned back to the farmers. Why then more land is acquired for the SEZ?” added the newly appointed CPI(M) chief.

Echoing apprehensions raised by several other opposition members on the various decisions taken by the BJP-led NDA government, Yechury asked the treasury benches, “All we demand from the BJP-led government is to live up to its election promises like MSP hike. You can’t go on cutting subsidies and reducing budgetary allocation.”

The Aam Aadmi Party too came under the criticism as Congress MP Raj Babbar raised serious questions over the conduct of none other than AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. Criticising the Delhi chief minister for being a mute spectator of a farmer’s suicide in his public rally at Jantar Mantar, he said “They were busy giving sermons and didn’t have the time or human concern to stop the person trying to hang himself on the tree.”

Sharing the farmer’s concerns Samajwadi Party’s Neeraj Shekhar told the house “farmers in rural areas are not able to educate their children”.

Defending the ordinance on land bill, Rural Development Minister Birender Singh said the new bill proposes to give back 20 per cent of developed land to farmers whose land has been acquired.

“Providing them 50 per cent of developed land is not possible,” he said, further adding that the new bill provides that 20 per cent of developed land will be given to farmers who have to then return the amount of compensation granted for it.

But continuing its opposition to the ordinance, Congress member Ahmed Patel sought to know whether the government has removed the consent clause for acquisition of land for issues of national security and for improving irrigation facilities.

The disturbing incident of a live suicide by a farmer in Aam Aadmi Party rally in Delhi last week led to the Upper house taking up the discussion over the prevailing fragile situation of agriculture sector.
Gajendra Singh had committed suicide by hanging himself by the tree in AAP’s ‘kisaan rally’ even as hundreds of AAP volunteers, police personnel and Delhi CM along with his cabinet colleagues and party leaders looked on.