India

Indian media assess 'controversial' land acquisition law

Opposition parties say the new land reforms law are against India's' farmers Image copyright EPA
Image caption Opposition parties say the new land reforms law are against India's' farmers

Media in India debate the government's decision to ease rules for acquiring land for infrastructure projects.

But the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is facing stiff competition from opposition parties.

Anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare has also begun a protest demanding the removal of changed rules.

Mr Hazare and opposition parties believe that the new rules will be unfair to farmers and the poor.

The BJP is likely to get the new rule passed in the lower house of the parliament, where it has a majority.

But the party and its allies are expected to encounter a hurdle in the upper house of the parliament where they are in a minority and need the support of opposition parties to pass laws.

Industry expectations

The Times of India says Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to "walk the talk" and get opposition parties on board to pass the bill in both houses of parliament.

"While there may be some give and take on the fine print, Mr Modi must stick to his guns while deploying all of his diplomatic skills in bringing sections of the opposition on board," it says.

The paper backs fair compensation for farmers.

"If farmers get fair compensation for their land, they shouldn't be seen universally as 'victims' of land acquisition. And it's quite plausible that their children will be happier with jobs in industry than having to till subdivided plots of land inherited from their parents," it adds.

The paper adds that "restrictions on buying land are one of the key reasons holding up projects worth almost $300 billion and the PM must walk his talk".

The Tribune also urges the government to not give in to the pressure from opposition parties.

"Any dilution of the ordinance, however, would send a wrong signal to industry, which has come to believe that the Modi government is all powerful and can take hard decisions, unlike the previous Manmohan Singh regime," it says.

The paper adds that "today it is a compromise on the land issue, tomorrow it could be on labour laws. Problems arise because narrow political interest guides decisions, not good of the nation".

Farmers' concerns

Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala, however, says that government seems to have forgotten that India's economy is largely based on agriculture.

"It seems that the government did not realise that India is an agriculture-based economy and any land acquisition law that favours corporate houses could be harmful for the government," it says.

Another Hindi daily Jansatta also believes that the new rules will increase forced acquisition of land from farmers.

Tiger data

And finally, an Oxford University survey has found flaws in some of the methods used for Tiger census in India, raising doubts over the claims of a rise in tiger population, the Hindustan Times reports.

India's national tiger survey in January 2015 claimed a rise of 30% in four years.

"Our empirical test with data from Indian tiger survey efforts proved that such calibrations (index-calibration approach; one of the methods used in censuses of tigers) yield irreproducible and inaccurate results," the paper quotes Arjun Gopalaswamy, lead author of the report from the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit at Oxford University's Department of Zoology, as saying.

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