Land Acquisition Bill gets Cabinet nod

The much-talked about Land Acquisition Bill was approved by the Union Cabinet notwithstanding reservations from some senior ministers.

New Delhi: The much-talked about Land
Acquisition Bill, which provides for enhanced compensation to
land owners and other benefits, was on Monday approved by the
Union Cabinet notwithstanding reservations from some senior
ministers on some aspects.

The Land Acquisition, Relief and Rehabilitation Bill,
2011, which was fast-tracked in the backdrop of a number of
agitations in parts of the country, will be introduced in
Parliament on Wednesday, Rural Development Minister Jairam
Ramesh said after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh.

Various aspects of the bill, said to be the brainchild of
Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, came in for extensive
discussion that lasted over 90 minutes.

It is learnt that former chief ministers in the Union
Cabinet including Veerappa Moily, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Virbhadra
Singh had strong views on certain aspects of the Bill and
favoured that the same may be ironed out in the Standing

One of the concerns of a former chief minister reportedly
was that the measure could result in shooting up of land
prices across the country.
The Bill is believed to have a proposal for compensation
four times higher than market rate to the owners.

It also proposes government help for acquisition of 20
per cent of the land for a private project in case the firm
acquires 80 per cent of the land needed for a project.
The bill proposals include a subsistence allowance of
3,000 per family per month for a year and an annuity of 2,000
per family per month for 20 years.

With the aim of seeking support for the bill from Cabinet
colleagues, Ramesh had met his senior Cabinet colleagues
including Pranab Mukherjee, Moily, Ambika Soni, Sharad Pawar,
A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Kishore Chandra Deo and Kapil

Claiming "broad support" for the bill, Ramesh said, "The
prime minister summed up (in the Cabinet meeting) by saying
that we need this bill, but we also need faster economic
growth and faster industrialisation and faster urbanisation."

He said that UPA ally Mamata Banerjee is "fully on board"
and her concerns have been "fully reflected".

"I want to thank the chief minister of West Bengal for
her very positive and pro active approach to the bill," he
Ramesh`s remarks are significant as Banerjee had earlier
opposed certain provisions of the Bill and the Centre has made
efforts to accommodate her proposals in the present bill.

"We are hoping that it we will be able to introduce this
bill on Wednesday and it would be referred to the Standing
Committee on Rural Development," he said.

"The Prime Minister has also decided that a meeting of
the National Development Council would be called sometimes in
the middle of October and this would then be discussed with
the Chief Ministers as well."

He said the government had received "over 100
representation, comments and suggestions" on the draft bill,
which had been on the Website since July 29 and "all this
will be forwarded to the Standing Committee."

"We expect the Standing Committee would submit its report
sometime during the winter session of Parliament," he said.

Describing it as a "historic bill" as it replaces a 117-
year-old Act, Ramesh said, "It is in my view it addresses the
concerns of many farmers and farmer organisations across the
country and also concerns of landless labour, tenants and
other livelihood losers."

"It integrates Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and
Resettlement. It clearly defines public purpose. It has a
retrospective clause," he said.

"So this bill seeks to balance the objective of faster
industrialisation, faster urbanisation with the need to
protect land owners and livelihood users," Ramesh said.

He said the bill is not "a coercive" one and the state
governments can have their own land acquisition laws.

The Minister said "it is a bill that gives maximum
flexibility to the state governments."

"It is a bill, in my view, that brings about balance
between the objective of faster industrialisation and the need
to protect land owners and livelihood losers," he said.

"The state governments are completely free to determine
how much land they wish to acquire and if they don`t want to
acquire like in the case of West Bengal government, they are
perfectly free," he added.


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