The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Land price sweetener on CPM table

Calcutta, April 2: The CPM is working on a compensation package offering double the market value of land to farmers and equity participation in industrial units coming up on their plots to silence the Opposition and make takeovers more palatable.

Land minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah has submitted the new set of proposals to state party secretary Biman Bose.

He has taken into account the prospective value of land and suggested that the landloser be awarded a part of that.

Party insiders said Bose tabled the proposal at the central committee meeting that concluded in Delhi today.

Mollah, who was the first to voice his concern about the land acquisition drive last year, has proposed 60 per cent of the market value of farmland as solatium.

In addition, they should get 40 per cent of the land’s prospective market value after 30 years.

“Since land is the only asset which appreciates with time, we need to pass on the benefit of this appreciation to them. A farmer giving away land is like an employee seeking an early retirement scheme. He should get some benefit with prospective effect and should also have the same amount of equity participation in the project,” the minister has told his party seniors.

For landowners who do not cultivate land, he has made provision for only a 60 per cent solatium over and above the market value, because these people do not depend on land for livelihood.

Sharecroppers, according to Mollah, should be awarded 75 per cent of the market value of land.

For landless labourers, the minister has proposed wages or work for 300 days for the first year after acquisition.

Mollah refused comment on his proposal, but sources close to him expressed confidence that his formula would win over farmers opposed to land acquisition.

Mollah is reported to have told the party that what he has proposed is the landlosers’ “rightful claim”.

According to the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, farmers should get 130 per cent of the market value of their land, which includes a 30 per cent solatium.

In addition, the government gave 10 per cent in Singur to those who agreed not to move court opposing the offer.

Before the Singur acquisition began, the land minister had asked for 50 per cent of the market value of a plot for sharecroppers.

Commerce and industries minister Nirupam Sen had shot down the proposal. Sharecroppers in Singur got 25 per cent.

For landless cultivators, Mollah had earlier suggested 200 days’ wage/work.

Sources said though the party’s pro-industry lobby did not heed Mollah’s suggestions earlier, they agreed after the Nandigram bloodbath that those dependent on land, including landless labourers and sharecroppers, should be awarded more than what the land acquisition law prescribes.

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