Lok Sabha to take up land bill on Thursday

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 17:20

New Delhi: After the passage of the landmark food security bill, the Lok Sabha is Thursday set to debate and pass another key legislation of the UPA government, the land acquisition and rehabilitation bill, government sources said.

"The land acquisition and rehabilitation bill is scheduled to be taken up in the Lok Sabha Thursday," said a government official.

While the government has moved 165 amendments, the opposition has moved as many as 116 amendments to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, which seeks to replace the colonial-era Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

The most important feature of the bill is that the consent of 80 percent of land owners concerned is needed for acquiring land for private projects and of 70 percent landowners for public-private projects.

The bill also defines "public purpose" to include: mining, infrastructure, defence, manufacturing zones, roads, railways, highways, and ports built by government and public sector enterprises, land for project-affected people, planned development and improvement of village or urban sites and residential purposes for the poor and landless and governmen-administered schemes or institutions, among others.

Though the key reform bill has faced reservations from the opposition in the past, government sources claimed there is a general political consensus on the legislation.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh have held several rounds of consultations with the opposition parties in the past.

But civil society activists have said the legislations will lead to "corporatisation" of land. They also say it lacks provisions for rehabilitating the displaced.

Government sources said they had agreed on two major issues raised by main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), one of which was an enabling provision for states to introduce a clause allowing leasing of land for projects instead of acquisition.

The second major concern put forward by the BJP was ensuring that all owners who had sold their land after Sep 5, 2011, when the bill was first introduced in parliament, also get compensation.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) had made a demand pertaining to the right to compensation of tenants who actually till the land.

It also wanted 100 percent consent from all families affected by the acquisition of land.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose party supports the United Progressive Alliance from outside, wants that the government should not acquire fertile agricultural land.

The bill seeks to address problems of industry regarding acquisition of land for setting up projects, and provides for rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced people.

It has provisions like compensation for the owners of the acquired land to be four times the market value in case of rural areas and twice in case of urban areas.

Introduced in 2011, the bill was scrutinized by parliamentary panel that submitted its report in May 2012.


First Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 17:20

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