Archive for ‘land reform’

01/07/2015

NDA constituents Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Swabhimani Paksha red-flag land bill provisions – The Hindu

Fault lines in the NDA over the land bill are visible with three of BJP’s allies – the Shiv Sena, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Swabhimani Paksha — red-flagging a number of provisions of the proposed legislation.

The contentious land acquisition bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament. File photo

The contentious bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament which is about to conclude its consultation process and consider it clause-by-clause next week.

While the Shiv Sena has, for quite some time, been on record seeking incorporation of a clause providing for 70 per cent consent of farmers in the bill, the SAD and the Paksha have written to the panel headed by S.S. Ahluwalia that “not an inch” of land should be acquired without the consent of farmers.

In its written representation to the JPC, five MPs from the SAD — Naresh Gurjal, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Sher Singh Ghubaiya — said that they firmly believe that land is a priceless asset of the farmers.

“Not even an inch of it should be acquired by the government without the consent of the farmers/land owners.” they said.

The MPs also insisted that land should only be acquired for public sector projects and the “government should not get into acquisition for private entities”.

via NDA constituents Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Swabhimani Paksha red-flag land bill provisions – The Hindu.

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21/04/2015

Rahul Gandhi’s Speech: The Indian Media’s Surprise Verdict – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s punditocracy in recent weeks has loved to hate Rahul Gandhi.

Mr. Gandhi, the vice president of India’s opposition Congress party, was derided by some opinion-makers for taking a break from frontline politics in mid-February–and not returning until mid-April. But on Monday, in a speech before Parliament, Mr. Gandhi surprised many pundits.

Not by what he said — he attacked, as expected, the government’s proposed changes to India’s laws on purchasing land — but by the fact that he spoke at all.

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Mr. Gandhi, who is a member of Parliament, rarely speaks in India’s lower chamber, the Lok Sabha. In fact, this was only his first address since Congress lost badly in national elections almost a year ago.

Congress’s loss provoked deep soul-searching within the party about its future. Mr. Gandhi was Congress’s prime ministerial hopeful in that drubbing.

On Monday, Mr. Gandhi blasted India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, and his Bharatiya Janata Party, for proposed changes to the Land Acquisition Act that, among other things would make it easier for businesses and the government to buy land for defense, industrial corridors, affordable housing and infrastructure projects by removing a requirement to obtain the consent of more than two-thirds of landowners.

Mr. Gandhi’s Congress party argues these changes are bad for India’s huge population of farmers, who he described in Parliament as the country’s backbone. “Everything has been built on a foundation that has been provided to us by the farmer,” Mr. Gandhi told lawmakers.

Pictures of Mr. Gandhi, dressed in a close-fitting white kurta and flanked by some of the party’s youngest members of Parliament, filled television screens and set his name trending on Twitter on Monday evening.

It also put the ruling BJP on the defensive after months of relatively limited challenges from the Congress party.  A piece in the Indian Express newspaper said the government was pushed into “damage control after Rahul Gandhi’s attack over the agrarian situation.”

Sanjay Singh, who writes about politics for Firstpost, wrote that Mr. Gandhi’s “rather aggressive pitching in Parliament has surely charged up Congress’ ranks.”

Another piece, posted on the IBNLive website of the Indian news channel CNN-IBN, said Mr. Gandhi had shown “he is back and he means business.”

“Maybe it is the low expectations,” the IBNLive piece said, “but Rahul Gandhi was definitely on fire.” The article was published with no byline.

via Rahul Gandhi’s Speech: The Indian Media’s Surprise Verdict – India Real Time – WSJ.

28/02/2015

China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post

China will spend about 26 billion yuan (HK$33 billion) to help identify and register the contractual rights over the nation’s arable land to pave the way for rural reforms.

Uygur farmers prepare potato beds in Xinjiang province. Photo: Reuters

More than 200 million rural households around the nation will be interviewed to help prepare the accurate record of farming rights.

Calling the task a “massive systematic project”, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Friday that clarifying land tenure and issuing certificates to farmers would form the basis of a series of expected reforms which aimed to help free up the rural land market.

Nearly 200,000 villages around the country – or one third of the total – have begun with the task, by aerial photography or site measurement, said MOA officials in a press conference.

Zhao Kun, a deputy inspector of the ministry’s rural economic system department, said local governments had appropriated a total of 8 billion yuan to carry out the job.

The central government has promised to provide 10 yuan for each mu of arable land – the Chinese unit of land area, which measures 666 square metres – a total of 18 billion yuan according to official data that states the mainland had 1.82 billion mu of farmland up to the end of 2011.

The Land Administration Law states that the ownership of rural land belongs to village collectives, with farmers given contractual rights to the land they farm for 30 years.

The central authorities decided to increase the security of land tenure in 2008. A directive issued that year said that contractual land management rights for farmers should “remain unchanged for a very long time”.

However, unlike urban home owners, rural residents do not yet hold any certification to prove their legal rights to their homes and farmland.

This makes it hard for them to transfer the land, which is forbidden by existing regulations but now being reformed in order to encourage larger scale farming and improve utilization efficiency of rural land.

Zhang Hongyu, head of the rural economic system department, said when farmers were given contractual rights of farmland in the first round of rural reform a few of decades ago, there were only rough estimates made about the size of their land plots owing to limitations over measuring methods at the time.

“Any related document the farmers previously had – either a contract or some other sort of certificate – showed different figures from what we are now finding,” he said.

Zhao said the project was not only a technical issue of measurement.

“It also involves interviews with each of the more than 200 million rural households [around the nation], which are really important for farmers as they need to know how big their plots are and where they’re located,” he said.

via China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post.

24/02/2015

Modi’s bid to ease land for companies could impact reforms | Reuters

A bid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make it easier for businesses to buy farm land for infrastructure and industry has sparked a backlash that could stymie his efforts to get reforms through a parliament session that began on Monday.

Labourers work along the construction site of a road at Ghilot in Rajasthan, October 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

While the change is aimed at unlocking hundreds of billions of dollars worth of projects, which have been stuck for want of land, opposition parties and rights activists say it discriminates against farmers.

“We will protest and fight the government on this issue inside and outside parliament,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, a senior leader of the opposition Congress party, told the Indian Express.

Modi issued an ordinance in December to exempt projects in defence, rural electrification, rural housing and industrial corridors from provisions of a law enacted by the previous Congress party government that mandated the consent of 80 percent of affected landowners for any deal.

He had also ended the need for companies to conduct a social impact study of such projects, which would involve public hearings and, industry executives fear, drag on for years.

The ordinance is a temporary order and needs the approval of both houses of parliament to come into force. It will lapse if parliament does not ratify it this session.

via Modi’s bid to ease land for companies could impact reforms | Reuters.

02/05/2014

Agriculture: Bring back the landlords | The Economist

CHINA’S Communist Party has always had a problem with big landowners. In Communist culture, they are synonymous with evil. In January on the country’s most-watched television show—a gala at lunar new year—viewers were treated to a scene from a Mao-era ballet featuring young peasants fired with zeal for revenge against a despotic rural landlord. Some critics rolled their eyes about such a throwback to the party’s radical past, but few complained about the stereotyping of landowners. Yet when it comes to letting individual families control large tracts of farmland, Communist Party leaders are beginning to have a change of heart.

Since January last year the term “family farm” has come into vogue in the party’s vocabulary. It refers not to the myriad tiny plots, each farmed by a single family, that are characteristic of the Chinese countryside; but to much larger-scale operations of a kind more familiar elsewhere, such as Europe or America. The trigger for this was the term’s use in a Communist Party directive known as “document number one”, the name traditionally given to the party’s new-year policy pronouncement on rural issues. It said the consolidation of household plots into family farms should be given “encouragement and support”.

On his first trip outside the capital after being appointed prime minister in March last year, Li Keqiang visited a 450-hectare (1,110-acre) family farm in the coastal province of Jiangsu. He said that boosting production was impossible on the tiny plots that most rural households farm (the average is less than half a hectare). “It can only be done through concentrating the land into larger farms”, Mr Li said. With more government support, “the earth could yield gold”, he told residents; a notion that would surprise the 260m people who have left the countryside to work in cities over the last three decades. Many villages are now home mainly to the elderly and left-behind children. During a visit to Switzerland two months later Mr Li again stopped by at a family farm (of a more modest 40 hectares). Chinese media said he wanted to pick up tips from Europe’s “advanced experiences” in running them. Chen Xiwen, a senior party policymaker on rural affairs, was even quoted as saying last year that he would like China to have vast “family farms like America’s”, but that he was worried about the impact on rural employment if farmland were to be managed by so few hands.

As is often the case whenever party policy appears to shift in the countryside, reality on the ground had long been changing before official rhetoric began to catch up. (Peasants started dismantling Mao’s disastrous “people’s communes” before the party began formally doing so in 1982.) The exodus from the countryside has allowed entrepreneurial farmers to build up their holdings by renting land from neighbours who no longer need it. They have not been able to buy it since all rural land is owned “collectively” by villagers. But they have been allowed to take over the right to farm it, and keep any profits. The party does not harp on about evil landlords of yore, since the new big-farmers are, legally speaking, merely tenants. In March last year the agriculture ministry took its first survey of family farms, though it has yet even to define the term precisely. It found there were already 877,000 of them, with an average size of around 13 hectares. They covered 13% of China’s arable land. Since 2008 the area of farmland rented out to other farmers has more than tripled.

via Agriculture: Bring back the landlords | The Economist.

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