Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh’s statement on land acquisition taking the shape of country’s biggest issue fails to bring out any new or startling fact to the fore. It’s a truth, that the delay in recognising the reality is indeed surprising. The land acquisition has remained a major issue for the past decade. Albeit, it is eccentric that the Union Government has woken up on this issue after a hiatus of seven years which became a testimony to a series of disputes and violent activities. During the aforesaid period, land acquisition has become the country’s most debated issue and gained alarming proportions.  It is even stranger that no solution seems to be in the offing on the grave issue. Though a draft has been prepared for the Land Acquisition Act but the Centre has taken a longer time in the preparation work and it is too early to predict that the draft would be effective enough to solve all the disputes related to land acquisition. The Land Acquisition draft contains several issues which are likely to stoke up few controversies. Therefore, the protest against the draft in different parts of the country comes as no major surprise. The proposed move to acquire only barren land will not prove sufficient to circumvent all the controversies, and if it is brought into implementation the country’s development is bound to suffer.

Taking stock of all of schemes and projects required for the nation’s development, the need for the acquisition of irrigated land and multi-crop producing land cannot be completely ignored. The provision does not seem to be pragmatic as it would be virtually impossible to bifurcate between the barren land and irrigated and multi-crop producing land. In addition, there are several areas in the country where there is no other option than acquiring arable lands for the development projects. It is justified to give preference to barren land, but simultaneously saving the land suitable for cultivation from the acquisition process seems impossible. In order to reduce the problems posed by the issue, it is essential to provide sufficient compensation to the affected farmers. The compensation should also include the labours who work in the arable lands for their survival. The reluctance on the part of the Centre and the State governments to pay the required compensation is hard to figure out. Though paying compensation as per the market rate or even higher can undoubtedly raise the project cost, but under the present scenario there is no other solution except this. All the political parties should come to terms with the harsh reality that provoking the farmers or using the issue as a political tool will eventually prove a loss to all and sundry. It would be better if the Centre comes up with a more practical draft on Land Acquisition Bill. The issue should not be prolonged as the aftermaths of the delay are on the rise. It is not justified that the land acquisition disputes prove a bottleneck in the country’s development.