Congress unhappy with Soren's take on land bill

Ranchi, Sep 11 (IANS) The Jharkhand state unit of the Congress Wednesday expressed unhappiness over the statement of Chief Minister Hemant Soren, who had said that the land acquisition bill was not fair to the state's tribal groups.

Hemant Soren a few days ago said that the central land acquisition bill was not in favour of tribal and indigenous people, and the state would thus formulate its own policy in the matter.

The Jharkhand Congress has reacted sharply to the chief minister's stance.

"If the chief minister has a problem with any bill of the central government, it should be discussed at a coordination committee, not discussed in public. The central land acquisition bill is in favour of the raiyat (farmer) and the raiyat constitutes both tribal and indigenous people," Sukhdeo Bhagat, president of the Jharkhand Congress unit, told IANS.

The Jharkhand Congress president said: "The consent of 70 percent of raiyats is mandatory for land acquisition, and the raiyat will be offered four times the market price of the land."

Bhagat said: "In Jharkhand, there are two land laws -- Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Act. Both were formulated to protect the rights of the tribal and indigenous people."

Asked about Hemant Soren's announcement that his government would formulate a new land acquisition law, Bhagat said: "Such issues should be raised at the coordination committee level. We will hear if any more lucrative policy (for those whose lands will be taken over) could be planned."

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