Dubious land acquisition amendment bill for the Andhra Pradesh capital Amaravati passed

The Dubious land acquisition amendment bill for the Andhra Pradesh capital Amaravati have passed after the state government’s land pooling scheme met with a dead end. A civil society statement signed by 46 organizations accuses the Bill of allegedly in lines with the Doing Business Report of the World Bank.

The Doing Business Report, which recommends the dilution of land acquisition laws and other regulatory checks in order to facilitate investments and improve ranking on the ease of doing business in that particular region, was controversial for its provisions of tweaking the right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013.

According to a joint statement signed by the National Alliance of People’s Movements, the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP), Narmada Bachao Andolan, Samata, Mines, Minerals and People, and many other movements, the amendments open the doors to all kinds of projects, violating the purpose of the concept of public purpose. Moreover, these amendments also circumvent LARR Act’s social impact assessment and need for consent by 70% landowners, says the joint statement.

"The amendment Bill empowers the state and corporations to infringe upon people’s rights over natural resources. In the Amravati Capital City project in Andhra Pradesh, this amendment will only embolden the efforts of the state in going ahead with the project, which involves coercion and intimidation in acquiring farmland despite pending cases, injunctions by courts and people’s protests," underlines the statement.

"This is an attempt by the state to legitimise the illegal and unjust actions, and we strongly condemn it. As is being widely perceived, the inability of the state to acquire lands through its questionable ‘land pooling’ scheme in the case of Amaravati, in fact, triggered the proposal to amend the LARR Act, 2013," states the statement.

The statement also says that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has already approved funding to the Andhra Pradesh government for the Amaravati Capital City Project, which is co-financed by the World Bank. The worst affected groups by handing over fertile farmlands to corporate entities are tenant cultivators, women farmers, fisher people, forest-dwelling Adivasis, and landless Dalits, adds the statement.

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