Land bill draft will go online for debate: Jairam

Jairam Ramesh brought his signature style of public consultation to his new job as rural development minister.

New Delhi: It was business as usual for
Jairam Ramesh in his new Rural Development Ministry where he
held extensive meetings with officials on his first day that
stretched past midnight.

Ramesh, who had a controversial stint as Environment
Minister, assumed charge of the new ministry immediately after taking oath as Cabinet Minister at the Rashtrapati Bhawan Tuesday evening and flagged the Land Acquisition Bill as his priority.

He held discussions with Ministers of State and senior
officials on various issues and met two members of the
National Advisory Council (NAC) which had recently made
recommendations on the Land Acquisition Bill.

"We will soon put out a draft Bill for public debate
by middle of next week. That was my approach in the
Environment Ministry and it will be the same in Rural
Development ministry," he said.

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 needs to be

"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 said he held extensive meetings in the ministry
till 1:00 am and followed it up with more discussions this

"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 said.

In the Cabinet reshuffle effected by Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh yesterday, Ramesh was elevated from the rank of
Minister of State (Independent Charge) to a Cabinet Minister
and given the Rural Development portfolio.