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Govt’s role in land acquisition suspect

The comments of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on land reforms are outlandish (editorial “Divided on govt role”, May 21). Government is never tired of telling its growth stories and growth is mainly understood in the industrial domain.

The parliamentary committee says that land is one of the factors of production just as labour and capital are. Unfortunately, labour market has been highly distorted by the government’s populist policies like MGNREGA and others.

In respect of capital it has become almost out of bound for industry due to various economic inflictions, high government borrowing and unmanageable inflation. So in a sense, labour and capital are virtually controlled by the government though indirectly.

Land records in large parts of our country are outdated and inaccurate. The absence of clean titles exposes buyers to unforeseen risks.

Laws in the US, Europe and Japan do not provide for land purchases by the state for private enterprises. Even the US, so strong on property rights, has a well developed doctrine of “eminent domain” supporting state action in land acquisition for public purpose regardless of whether the public purpose in question also benefits private interests.

Undoubtedly, it is an anti-market route to get the land purchased by the state and then transfer it to the private sector. This issue became glaring when a bunch of big corporates started taking undue advantage of the land acquisition Act for SEZ.

PD SHARMA, Ludhiana


There is no logic behind Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh rejecting the parliamentary panel’s key recommendations to keep the state away from acquiring land for private business (news item ‘Land acquisition: Ramesh reject panel’s suggestions’, May 19). Does the growth of economy depend on developing more industries?

Urbanisation and industrialisation are not more important than agriculture and the farming community. There is enough non-agriculture land with the government, why is the fertile agriculture land always selected for bringing up industries?

The rural development minister must focus on developing rural infrastructure and facilities to boost agriculture and de-urbanise cities. Reduction of agriculture will imbalance the ecology. The government cannot act like a real estate developer or a property dealer. There is a need to misuse the term ‘public purpose’ and make it more relevant and strict, to plug its misuse as done in Noida by Mayawati government.

Land acquired in UT Chandigarh for developing the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP) has proved to be the biggest flop. The unscrupulous real estate developers get agricultural land acquired for fake development purposes by bribing politicians and make huge profit by using it for housing projects and commercial use. The stand taken by the minister is illogical, unwarranted and unjustified.


Problems within

That all is not well within our armed forces is discernable to well-informed citizens of our country. Senior retired army officers appear on televised debates trying to rationalise the endemic problems by blaming the politico-bureaucratic nexus against the armed forces.

Sadly, the ability to introspect and admit shortcomings has been missing amongst our senior officers. Even rarer are those who have the moral courage to initiate corrective measures.

In nascent democratic societies, especially like ours where a sense of national identity is yet to gain ground amongst the uneducated, disempowered masses, the ruling class is bound to use manipulative instruments to acquire political power and hold on to it. It is therefore, in the interest of the ruling class to identity and appoint pliant and subservient officers to man the higher echelons of the armed forces and the civil services. By doing so, the political class attempts to reduce the friction that is inevitable should honourable, capable men climb up the hierarchy based on merit.

Do we have the capacity to groom young Indians having the qualities of heart, mind and body, essential for leadership roles, especially in the armed forces? Even if we have the capacity, are we attracting capable, committed young citizens into our armed forces? Also relevant would be the question regarding willingness of our political class to identify and appoint honourable and capable officers to higher echelons of our services, both civil and armed.


Unjustified hike

The petrol price hike has drawn a lot of flak no doubt, but there are certain quarters who are justifying governmental action by claiming that the hike was required to compensate the deficit (editorial ‘Petrol shoots up’, May 25). No doubt, data is not always helpful to understand the ground reality, is it not true that 50% of the consumers payment on petrol goes back to the government in the form of taxes? The oil companies are crying hoarse over the deficit. In the last financial year, look at the net profit (or pure proceeds) of the companies and we find that HPCL earned Rs 1,539 cr , BPCL earned Rs 1,547 cr and IOC earned as much as Rs 7,445 cr profit.

The second excuse is depreciation of the Indian rupee against dollar. While last year in May, 2011, when one dollar equalled Rs 46, India was purchasing crude oil at the rate of Rs 5,244, while now when one dollar is equivalent to Rs 56, India is purchasing crude oil at the rate of Rs 5,096. Therefore, crude oil is being bought Rs 150 cheaper, yet the petrol rate was not reduced but hiked.

HS DIMPLE, Jagraon


A sharp increase to the tune of 10% in petrol price is making a big hole in the pockets of the common man. The editorial rightly points out that Punjab Chief Minister was the first one to press the UPA for a petrol hike rollback, but did not care to reduce the state tax on petrol. Petrol in Punjab is costlier than in neighboring states Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and UT. Most of the vehicle owners fill up their vehicle petrol tank in the neighboring areas. Punjab should bring the prices at par with Haryana. The quantum of sales will increase and ultimately generate tax.

O P GARG, Patiala

Running away from nature

Rajbir Deswal’s middle ‘Paradise lost’ (May 25) is a beautifully woven story of yore. I still remember the natural shade of ‘sheesham’ and ‘neem’ in the scorching heat of summer, immeasurable pleasure drawn from the tree-hung swings in the rainy season, the therapeutic music of a flowing stream, dance of peacocks and fallen tree branches dancing on the ponds. All these musings have become a thing of the past being replaced with costly and unnatural infrastructure. The serene and kind nature helps us in maintaining a rhythm and keeping our minds calm. Nature has bountiful gifts for man if he nurtures and loves her.

Dr S KUMAR, Panchkula



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