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28 Jan 2017

CM calls for new land conversion rule.... Mamata Banerjee wants total control over conversion of agriculture land

 | Jan 28, 2017, Kolkata: Taking lessons from the Bhangar movement, the Mamata Banerjee government is not ready to take any chances when it comes to conversion of land. At Friday's cabinet meeting, the CM instructed ministers to draft a proposal so that cabinet approval is made mandatory for conversion of any agricultural land for industrial purpose. This process is currently handled by block-level officers. Banerjee has also asked that all conversions from agriculture to industrial be put on hold till further orders.

The proposal, likely to come up in the next cabinet meeting, is significant because, during the Bhangar land movement, there has been allegation from several quarters that the district-level Trainamool leadership in connivance with some district-level officials have misled the people and acquired the land. "The chief minister wants to find out what actually happened in Bhangar. Though the movement has died down, the state wants a concrete solution on land-related issues," an official said.

"For now, the government has decided that apart from setting up a farmhouse or a poultry farm, any agricultural plot that needs to be converted for industrial purpose has to get permission from the state cabinet," said a senior cabinet minister.

Sources in the state secretariat said the state wants to act fast so that agitations do not start anywhere else in the state. "However, there is a chance of delay in looking into all proposals, which might have a negative impact on industrialists," an official said. 

 | Jan 28, 2017, KOLKATA: The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal is considering centralising conversion of agricultural land into other purposes from the state secretariat Nabanna, instead of district or block levels.

"The state cabinet during its meeting today discussed that the control over conversion of agriculture land into other purposes should remain in the hands of the government's top level to avoid interference of land mafias, manipulation in conversion process or any other controversy," state Agriculture Minister Purnendu Bose said.

The issue of land use conversion figured in today's cabinet meeting, which came on the heels of the clash in Bhangor area in the southern fringes of the city where two villagers died while protesting the construction of a Power Grid sub-station.
"The matter is still at the discussion stage and no final decision has been taken. If conversion of land has to be centralised from the state secretariat, the existing Land Act needs to be amended and thus, an Amendment Bill has to be moved in the state Assembly," Bose said.

"The entire process is a long drawn one and nothing has been finalised about how the Amendment Bill should be brought or which sections of the existing Land Act be changed for the purpose," he said.

Villagers today withdrew their blockades in Bhangor, where tension prevailed following disruption of law-and-order situation by some miscreants from outside with the provocation of some opposition political parties, Bose said.

"Our party supremo Mamata Banerjee has never acquired any land forcibly and not a single inch of land will be acquired forcibly in future by her government," the minister said.

"The people of Bhangor have realised their mistakes and have now come forward to become a part of the development process initiated by the Mamata Banerjee government, leaving aside all disruptive methods. It is a good sign," Bose added.

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