In an article published in the Sikkim Express on 5 August 2015, Dr. Mechung claimed that the Land Acquisition Bill is eroding the old laws of Sikkim and it would make people in Sikkim landless. This is misleading and factually incorrect. SDF condemns this kind of propaganda which is designed to create insecurity in the minds of the people of Sikkim.
Before the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 the land in Sikkim was acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
Sikkim enacted The Sikkim Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1977 that deal with the acquisition of land. This law will be impacted by by the new Land Acquisition bill. Not 371F as the 1977 enactment in Sikkim already has had the ‘’dilution’ effect which perhaps Mechung is desirous of claiming.
The larger question is if Dr. Mechung’s claim that the new bill would make the people of Sikkim landless based in fact or just a ploy to create fear in the minds of the Sikkimese people. Even a cursory read of the old land acquisition laws, the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 and the proposed bill shows that the 2015 Bill and the 2013 Act favour the farmers and landholders immensely. Under the older laws, land could be acquired by the government forcefully without giving people an opportunity to defend their claims if the government sighted urgency in the matter. Under the new laws, 80% of the landholders need to consent to the acquisition of land if it is being done for private purposes and 70% need to consent if it is for a PPP project. The compensation paid to the landholders is also much higher under the new law. The new bill tried to introduce certain categories of projects that would be exempt from the consent requirements but this has been changed by the Joint Committee in the Parliament. Such projects will also need to conduct a Social Impact Assessment to assess the impact that the acquisition would have on the people. Thus it is clear that the new laws will protect the interests of farmers and landowners in Sikkim, unlike what is claimed by Dr. Mechung, and the land owners of Sikkim are more protected than ever from land acquisition.
The SDF Party desires that debate on this issue be done with facts as the basis instead of trying to create fear and panic in the minds of people of Sikkim through cheap propaganda..