SC castigates Govt on raw deal to land owners

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New Delhi, Feb 17 (PTI) The Supreme Court today camedown heavily on the government for failing to rehabilitateland owners in the country whose land have been acquired forconstruction of various dams and industrialisation.

A bench of justices G S Singhvi and Asok Kumar Gangulysaid the government which "granted exemption to the tune of Rs1.25 lakh crore for Special Economic Zones" was fighting shyof providing employment to the landowners whose only source oflivelihood had been taken away by acquistion proceedings.

"Unfortunately, the Land Acqusition Act is being abusedin the country. It was first enacted by the British in 1884.

The white men have left but their legacy continues. Thecolonial mindset is continuing.

"Most of them (land owners) are illiterate. They onlyknow how to use the plough. Maharashtra and Andhra are famousfor farmers suicides. They are fleeced by money lenders,middlemen and other outsiders," the bench said.

The apex court made the remakrs while asking Maharashtragovernment to explain the number of land owners or theirfamily members provided employment in return for the landacquiured for Gosikhurda dam in the state''s Vidharbha region.

Counsel for some of the land owners Somanath Padhansubmitted before the bench that the victims were without anysource of livelihood after about 35.43 hectares of their landwas acquired as early as in October, 1999.

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