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Land Bill in next session: PC

We must have a new land acquisition law

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi |
May 13, 2011 1:16:47 am

With a controversy raging over land acquisition in Uttar Pradesh,the Centre today said it plans to introduce a Bill in this regard in the next session of Parliament as there appears to be “consensus on the law with some amendments”.

“We must have a new land acquisition law. Government has drafted a new Act that has provisions for better compensation,rehabilitation and other measures… consensus building took some time… there is a fair degree of certainty that there is consensus on the law with some amendments,” Home Minister P Chidambaram told a press conference,the first after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formed a Group of Ministers to brief the media.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal also said that the government wants to introduce the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament.

On May 20,Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh is expected to consult different stakeholders — outside the government — over the proposed amendments to the Act. Today,he met RLD leader Ajit Singh who presented him with his draft of amendments.

On the frontburner after clashes between farmers and police in Greater Noida,the land acquisition issue has also been the subject of intense debate within the government for over five years.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh advocated the need for a humane rehabilitation package to those being displaced because of development projects. A Group of Ministers (GoM) was formed to work out the contours of a rehabilitation package — one that would involve amending the Land Acquisition Act and introducing a Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) Bill to provide legal force to a rehabilitation package.

The amendments to the Act sought to redefine “public purpose” and put a ceiling on land acquisition by government for projects by private individuals. It favoured the government acquiring a maximum of 30 per cent of land,provided the remaining 70 per cent is already purchased by the private industry. This would have ensured land contiguity for private players.

For the R&R policy,the legislation was premised on the principles of “compensation before displacement” and “rich rehabilitation” of people affected by a project that would entail land acquisition by the government.

It also envisaged that the compensation paid to land owners should not be less than the average of the top 50 per cent of land sale deals in the last three years or the minimum floor rates fixed by the state government,whichever is higher.

In addition,it enhanced the solatium for land acquisition from the existing level of 30 per cent to 60 per cent of the value of land acquired with the provision that land acquired for a private person would revert to the government if the project developer failed to start the project within a stipulated period of time (five years).

While the R&R policy was approved by the Cabinet in 2007 itself,the accompanying R&R Bill and amendments to the Land Acquisition Act was introduced in Parliament in December that year. Though it got approval of Lok Sabha after incorporating some suggestions,it could not be taken up by Rajya Sabha. The Bill lapsed and needs to be introduced again.

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