New Delhi, Mar 24 : Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil on Monday said that the Government has plans to amend land acquisition laws in the country.
In his address to a conference on relief and rehabilitation of displaced persons in New Delhi, Patil said that agricultural land should not be acquired as far as possible for Special Economic Zones (SEZ).
"The policy which the Government is trying to make with respect to SEZ is that land which is good for agricultural activities should not be acquired, as far as possible irrigated land should not be acquired for this purpose," Patil said.
"If you acquire irrigated land that means agricultural production will be reduced and industrial production will grow. So as far as possible not that in all cases it would be possible, as far as possible, barren land should be acquired and the land, which is not good for agricultural purposes should be acquired," he added.
The Land Acquisition Act, 1894 enables Governments to acquire land for public purposes as well as for companies registered under the Companies Act.
Following protests in Nandigram and other SEZs, it was proposed that the law should be suitably amended so that the Government can acquire land for public purposes. The only time the Government can step in is, when a company has acquired 70 per cent of the required land and then seeks State's help to take over the rest.
Forceful acquisition of land by the Government for setting up of SEZ's had resulted in large-scale violence in the country.
Nandigram, a cluster of villages in West Bengal, was the flash point of a conflict between mostly poor farmers and the State Government since early 2007 over the refusal of the villagers to sell their land for a chemical industry complex.
Nearly three-dozen people are reported to be killed, and police have found several unmarked graves in the area. Villagers say the toll could be much higher as people remain missing or deaths could have been concealed.
The State backed down on plans to acquire the land after fierce protests early last year, but police and party workers were still unable to enter the area for months.