Ahead of circulating the draft National Right to Homestead Bill,2013,and in the backdrop of the Land Acquisition Bill,2011,continuing to hang fire,the Rural Development Ministry has issued advisories to state governments suggesting measures for expediting land reforms.
With some state elections this year and the Lok Sabha elections due next year,the Centre hopes to make the right noises about issues related to land reforms; the proposed Homestead Bill and push for the Land Acquisition Bill being part of this effort.
The advisories have been already issued to 13 states Andhra Pradesh,Bihar,Chhattisgarh,Gujarat,Karnataka,Kerala,Maharashtra,Madhya Pradesh,Orissa,Punjab,Tamil Nadu,Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The advisory recommends measures for speedy and effective resolution of land disputes and for providing free legal assistance to the poor. While some recommendations suggest new measures,others pertain to the already existing measures and how to implement them more effectively. Apart from a common general advisory,there are also state specific recommendations. The advisories were issued to chief ministers on Friday. Advisories to the remaining states were issued on Tuesday.
We are fulfilling a part of the Agra agreement. We hope this will contribute to expediting land reforms in states. Land reforms has all but vanished from the political agenda, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
Land being a state subject,the Centre can only issue advisories. The advisory emphasises the need of a sensitive legal mechanism that would help people secure land rights. The ministry has recommended establishing Land Rights and Legal Assistance Centres at every block/ sub-district headquarter and requested states to send a plan for the same to the ministry before June. It has suggested assistance centres comprise paralegals and lawyers and in each block,three to five rural youth/ women be trained in land and legal matters to be positioned as paralegals.