LUDHIANA, November 24: Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today warned the Punjab government against the forcible acquisition of land in nine villages in Ludhiana district along the Sidhwan Canal, Northern bye-pass for setting up an industrial park and a township. Questioning the very rationale behind setting up of the industrial park when the existing industrial areas and industrial focal points were crying for attention and the industry was running away, the union minister said, even if the state government needed to acquire the land it should acquire it under the new land acquisition law enacted by the Congress led United Progressive Alliance government at the centre in the previous session of the parliament. Tewari assured a delegation of the people from nine villages led by Ujjagar Singh Gill that he will ensure that the state government was not allowed to forcibly acquire their land and if at all the land was needed to be acquired it would be only with the consent of the local people and under the provisions of the new Land Acquisition Law. The Union Minister disclosed that the farmers in nine villages were served the acquisition notices under the old law passed in 1894 when the new farmer-friendly law had already been passed. He observed, this was being clearly done to deny the farmers the benefits of the new law. He expressed surprise as how a government claiming itself to be farmer-friendly could deny the benefits under new law to the farmers? Tewari disclosed that the state government was planning to acquire 2100 acres of land in nine villages in Ludhiana district along the Sidhwan Canal on the Northern bye-pass. The government, he said, is learnt to be planning to set up an industrial park and a water-front city. “Nobody has any objections if the government’s intentions are genuine about development, but this cannot be done while devastating hundreds of farmers”, he said while warning against such a move. Asserting that if at all the land has to be acquired, the Minister said, it can only be acquired under the new law. He said, under the new law the government is bound to pay compensation to the farmers which should be four times the prevailing market rate of the land in the area as these all fall in the rural areas (Compensation for urban areas is double of the prevailing market rate). Besides, there must be consent of 80 per cent people whose land has to be acquired before the government could initiate the acquisition process. Listing other benefits under the new acquisition law, Tewari said, all affected families are entitled to a house provided they have been residing in an area for five years or more and have been displaced. If they choose not to accept the house they have to be offered a one-time financial grant in lieu of the same, he added. The Union minister said, all affected families have to be given a choice of annuity or employment and if employment is not forthcoming they are entitled to a one-time grant of Rs.5 lakh per family. Besides, he added, they will have to be alternatively provided with an annuity payment of Rs.2,000 per month per family for 20 years, which will be adjusted for inflation, subsistence allowance of Rs.3,000 per month for a period of one year from the date of award and other benefits like that.