Land acquisition back in focus in Telangana

Hyderabad, January 2: With the passing of controversial land acquisition bill by Telangana assembly, the issue is back in focus in India’s youngest state.

The bill generated much political heat both in and outside the House with the opposition closing ranks to take on the TRS government.

The manner in which the bill was passed by voice vote amid ruckus, triggered acrimony and sparked debate on whether the state has powers to pass a bill amending a central legislation.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Telangana Amendment) Act, 2016 was declared passed by voice vote by Speaker Madhusudhana Chary even as the opposition wanted to put forth its views.

The bill is aimed at tweaking The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

 Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao told the House that the central Act was passed in an irresponsible fashion and some sections were proving a hurdle in land acquisition.

Taking a strong exception to the manner in which the speaker conducted the proceedings to pass the bill, main opposition Congress, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) boycotted the assembly for one day.

The opposition alleged that the speaker is not acting in an impartial and fair manner and allowing TRS government to bulldoze the opposition.

The opposition argued that the state can’t amend a central legislation. Congress party even submitted a representation to President Pranab Mukherjee, urging him not to give his assent to the bill.

KCR, however, contended that under Article 254, the state has a right to have its own legislation on a subject which is in concurrent list.

He pointed out Gujarat, Rajasthan and some other states had already enacted their own land acquisition Act.

Stating that irrigation projects can’t be built without land and without projects, ‘Bangaru Telangana’ can’t be achieved, KCR said the amendment was necessary to overcome the impediments in acquiring the land.

KCR also targeted the opposition parties especially CPI(M), saying they were provoking people provoking people going to be displaced by the irrigation projects. 

He was referring to protests in some of the 14 villages in Medak district which will be submerged by Mallanna Sagar.

It is designed to irrigate 12 lakh acres in Nizamabad, Medak, Rangareddy and Nalgonda districts.

Being taken up at a cost of Rs 9,800 crore, it is one of the biggest projects planned by TRS as part of its vision ‘golden Telangana’.

While opposition claimed that the TRS government is denying fair compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation by not implementing 2013 Act, the government argued that the state legislation is only aimed at removing the impediments.

The protest by Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) chairman M. Kodandaram on land acquisition issue also brought the opposition parties together.

Kodandaram, who had to stage a silent protest at his house after police denied permission to TJAC to hold a ‘dharna’, vowed to continue his fight against forcible acquisition of land and demanded implementation of 2013 Act.

The TJAC chairman had played an active role in Telangana movement. The opposition is using the fact to target TRS government and its ‘undemocratic’ attitude. “If this can happen to Kodandaram, the plight of common man under TRS rule can well be imagined,” said Congress leader K. Jana Reddy.

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