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Land Acquisition Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 21:06

New Delhi: A bill providing for compensation
upto four times the market value of land in rural areas and
twice the value in urban areas along with the stipulation that
consent of 80 per cent of the people is necessary was
introduced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The much-awaited Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and
Resettlement Bill, 2011, introduced by Rural Development
Minister Jairam Ramesh also proposes controlled acquisition of
multi-crop irrigated land for developmental purposes.

The bill prepared after pre-legislative consultations has
made significant changes in its earlier draft.

Acknowledging that in its earlier draft, the multiple for
total compensation for acquired land in rural areas was 6,
Ramesh later said the multiple of compensation in rural area
has been reduced to 4 while in urban areas it remains at 2.

He said changes were made after considering "lot of
concerns" that were raised in the meeting of the consultative
committee of the Ministry during which members said that 6
times compensation in rural areas would "impose a heavy burden
on industry and infrastructure".
The proposed legislation, which will replace a more
than century old Act, has comprehensively defined the clause
"Public purpose" to ensure that Government`s intervention in
acquisition is limited to "defence, (and) certain development
projects only."

"It has also been ensured that consent of at least 80 per
cent of the project affected families is to be obtained
through a prior informed process," Ramesh said in the
statement of objets and reasons of the bill.

The bill also clearly states that multi-crop irrigated
land could be acquired "as a last resort measure."

"Multi-crop irrigated land will not be acquired except as a
demonstrably last resort measure, which in no case should lead
to acquisition of more than 5 per cent of multi-crop irrigated
area in a district," he said.

Ramesh said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other
Ministers dealing with infrastructure portfolios had agreed
with the concerns raised in his ministry`s consultative
committee meeting about higher compensation.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Agriculture Minister
Sharad Pawar and other ministers handling key infrastructure
portfolios spoke on the concerns also expressed by Planning
Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and some
MPs from Punjab, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

"....and after a great deal of discussion, the multiple in
rural area is now 4 instead of 6 in urban areas it remains 2,"
he said and dismissed the allegations that it has been
diluted.

"The Government is trying to bring a balance between
different objectives. You always try to negotiate to
everybody`s advantage. And right now I believe that the
multiple of 4 in rural areas and multiple in 2 in urban areas
is acceptable to all sides, to all stakeholders," he said.

Claiming that the bill is not a one-sided draft, Ramesh
said, "it is pro land owner, it is pro livelihood loser and it
is also pro economic growth."

"It is a balanced draft. It is a difficult balance," the
Minister told reporters expressing hope that the Standing
Committee on Rural Development will by and large give its
approval to the bill that is introduced.

According the bill, consent of 80 per cent of the
project affected families` are required for the Government`s
acquisition of land "for pubic sector companies or PPP
projects and for private companies for the production of
public goods.

The draft of the bill which was placed on public domain on
July 29 for public consultations had said that under no
circumstances would multi-crop irrigated land be allowed to be
acquired.

Ramesh said a number of leaders including the chief
ministers of Kerala, Haryana, Punjab and many MPs met him
suggesting modifications.

"Many ministers, Prime Minister, Finance Minister,
Agriculture Minister, Industry Minister all spoke to me. So we
have carried out a small modification," the Minister said.

He said accepting a suggestion made by Sharad Pawar, a
provision has been incorporated that "wherever multi-crop
irrigated land is aquired an equal amount of wasteland must
be developed for agricultural purposes."
The bill also proposes to include provision for creation
of a land bank in states to keep the acquired land with it if
it is not used in 10 years by the concerned party.

Provision in the first draft was to return the land to
original owner if it was not used in five years for the
purpose for which it is acquired.

Ramesh said it was West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee`s idea that the land that is not used within 10 years
in accordance with the purposes for which it was acquired at
the time of acquisition, shall be transferred to the state
government`s land bank.

The bill also says only rehabilitation and resettlement
provisions will apply when private companies buy land for a
project - more than 100 acres in rural areas, or more than 50
acres in urban areas.

The bill also proposes a new provision on safeguards
against the indiscriminate acquisition.

According to it, "no change from the purposes specified
in the Land Use Plan submitted at the time of land acquisition
will be allowed. No change of ownership without specific
permission of appropriate government is allowed".

The bill proposes special provision for Scheduled Caste
and Scheduled Tribes by providing additional benefits of 2.5
acres of land or exten of land lost to each affected family.

It also proposes special provision for SCs and STs one
time financial assistance of Rs 50,000, twenty-five per cent
additional rehabilitation and resettlement benefits for the
families settled outside the district, free land for community
and social gathering and continuation of reservation in the
resettlement areas.

The bill also says it "would provide for the basic
minimum that all projects leading to displacement must
address."

"A Social Impact Assessment (SIA) of proposals leading to
displacement of people through a participatory, informed and
transparent process involving all stake holders, including the
affected persons will be necessary before these are acted
upon," says the bill.

A retrospective effect clause has been brought in the
bill, which also proposes a comprehensive rehabilitation and
resettlement package for both land owners and livelihood
losers.

Ramesh said the retrospective clause that was not there
in the July 29 draft, was brought after a demand made by all
farmers` organisations from different parts of the country
particularly from Uttar Pradesh.

Claiming that the bill is not a one-sided, he said, "In my
view, it is pro land owner, it is pro livelihood loser and it
is also pro economic growth."

"It is a balanced draft. It is a difficult balance. But I
believe that we have struck the balance and I hopeful that the
standing committee will by and large will give its approval to
this bill that is introduced," he added.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 06:44

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