Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh), Feb 16 (IANS) Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said his party governments will not take farmer’s land without their consent.
“If any farmer’s land is taken for industry or a project, then the industry or project has to be set up within five years. If it is not done within this period, the land has to be returned to farmers,” he said at a farmers’ rights convention at village Dhuragaon in Lohandiguda block of Chhattisgarh’s Bastar district.
“The Congress has taken the step of returning the land of tribals. Chhattisgarh is the first state where this has been done,” he said, stressing tribals have the first right over forests and should enjoy the benefits.
He said the Congress, which has returned to power in the state after 15 years, would fulfil its promises. He said tendu leaf collectors now get Rs 4,000 against the Rs 2,500 they were getting during the Raman Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
Gandhi distributed land right titles to farmers for area acquired by the previous BJP government for a Tata Steel project, which never materialised due to local opposition and eventually the company pulled out.
The Congress had made the return of land a campaign promise in the November assembly elections.
Gandhi also distributed loan waiver certificates to eligible farmers and forest rights certificates. He also laid the foundation stone of the food park being built by the state government in the area.
Taking pot-shots at the previous government, He said it claimed that it had no money for farmers. “They were putting your money into their own pockets or pockets of their 15 businessmen cronies,” he alleged.
He also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bailing out top industrialists but not waiving farmers’ loans. “Our government had sought 10 days to waive loans and did it within six hours.”