Govt not to allow acquisition of fertile land for non-farm use

New Delhi – Amid inter-ministerial differences on the land acquisition bill, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said the government will not allow acquisition of high-yielding farm land for non-agricultural purposes as rising population is building pressure on food demand.

He said the total foodgrains production in 2012-13 crop year would definitely be lower than last year’s record output of 257.4 million tonnes because of poor monsoon, but exports of rice, wheat, cotton and sugar will continue.

The minister said the Centre is working on a long-term export-import policy for agri items as the “switch on, switch off” trade rules would bring disrepute to the country.

On the controversial land acquisition bill, Pawar who himself heads the Empowered Group of Ministers on the issue, said, “We will ensure that acquisition of high yielding farm land is not allowed for non-agriculture purpose. This is a serious issue and the government is concerned about it.

He said land acquisition should not be permitted even in cases where single crop is grown in a year.

“One should not be allowed to acquire agriculture land where single and multiple crops are grown. In only exceptional cases, permission should be given for acquiring some agriculture land, otherwise permission should not be given,”

With regard to use of agriculture land for non-farm purpose, he said, “some changes are required (in the existing legislation) and some steps are required to be taken”.

The EGoM meeting yesterday remained inconclusive due to differences among members with regard to certain clauses including those on retrospective acquisitions and percentage of consent required from land owners.

On the genetically modified crops like brinjal, he said the government was not in a “hurry” to allow them.

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