`NAC advice on Land Acquisition Bill accepted`
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Last Updated: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 19:52
New Delhi: Quickly getting down to business, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today said a draft Land Acquisition Bill will be placed for public debate next week and he will come up with a separate legislation for compensation and resettlement of affected people.

"The purpose for which the land is being acquired -- whether it is for critical infrastructure or golf courses -- are important issues that have to be discussed," he told reporters a day after taking charge of his new ministry.

Refuting any tussle with the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) on the Land Acquisition Bill, Ramesh said his ministry has accepted its recommendations for two separate bills relating to acquisition and rehabilitation.

"We have accepted the NAC recommendations. We are working with the NAC," he said after holding three-hour long discussions with two NAC members on the subject.

Ramesh, who had a controversial stint as Environment Minister, assumed charge shortly after taking oath as Cabinet Minister at the Rashtrapati Bhawan last evening and flagged the land acquisition bill as his priority.

"Two members of the NAC were here. There will be no instance between our ministry and the NAC where one can say the NAC is moving in one direction and the ministry in another direction. This is not possible," he said.

The NAC has favoured 100 per cent land acquisition by the government to ensure that farmers are not exploited by middle-men.

Asked whether the Ministry has agreed for 100 per cent land acquisition by the Government, Ramesh said, "You wait for the Bill. When the Bill is presented, it will become clear whether there will be 100 per cent private acquisition or 100 per cent will be acquired by the government."

"I have been a member of the NAC. So my aim will be that the Bill that we are preparing will be prepared by both the NAC and our ministry," he said.

"We will soon put out a draft Bill for public debate by the middle of next week," the Minister said, adding that it is expected to be placed before Parliament by the end of the Monsoon session starting August one.

Ramesh said besides compensation to land owners, he felt that the issue of giving benefits to those whose livelihood depends on the land to be acquired also need to be addressed.

"It is not just compensation to land owners but more important issue is to compensate those whose livelihood depends on the land being acquired. This is the most important matter. Compensation is the second important issue," he said.

Ramesh, who was elevated from the rank of Minister of State (Independent Charge) to a Cabinet Minister in the reshuffle effected by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday, said he held extensive meetings in the ministry till 1:00 A.M. and followed it up with more discussions this morning.

He said there will also be a separate bill for compensation and resettlement as big projects like power and irrigation will come up.

"So, for R and R (resettlement and rehabilitation) package, there is need for a separate Bill. But the Land Acquisition Bill which will come will also have a mention of resettlement and rehabilitation," the Minister said.


First Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2011, 19:52

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