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Indian farmers discovered they had been cheated, because government officers had taken their farmed land, using powers of eminent domain laid out in India’s colonial-era land acquisition law, at a very cheap price. Then the acquired had been sold to private sectors at 14 times what the farmers received as compensation. The original price had been inflated 14 times. This is definitely an unsavoury sales tactic. The private companies must be allowed to deal directly with the farmers, to prevent this sort of exploitation from happening again.

In one incident, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s acquisition of the land was illegal. But the land could not be returned as thousands of families had already paid for flats of the partially completed buildings. The court only increased the compensation to another 64% in the compensation payments, which was still too low, based on the amount of money paid to the corrupt officers by the flat buyers.

India was trying to transform from a rural, agrarian society to an industrialized, urbanized economy. Will the Indian farmers continue to accept widespread compulsory land acquisition? Do they have the chance to refuse?

India inherited the British 1894 Land Acquisition Act, which allowed the state to take private land for public purposes, if owners were fairly compensated. So far India had used this power to take over land for roads, dams, steel mills, power plants, industrial townships, military bases, schools, hospitals etc. Many greedy politicians took bigger tracts than their projects required.

It is common to acquire land from the farmers, rezone it into urban land and sell it at more than 14 times the value, to urban dwellers. India is a country which is most complex to administer. For example, all the Buddhists properties were managed by Hindus. Why are the Buddhists not able to manage their own properties? The state governments will continue to snap up land tracts for new smart cities or industrial zones. When will the farmers get a fair deal?

Greedy people use their power to take private land and sell it to companies at more than ten times the price they paid to the farmers. Rooting out corruption is the best means of solving India’s problems today, and crackdown on graft is the next issue the honest Indians need to look into.

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