Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who held a 40-minute meeting with Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday, said the new land bill prepared by the central government is much more positive than the previous one and that she will give her views on the draft after thoroughly studying it.
Ramesh said Banerjee "appeared to be broadly in sympathy with the approach of the bill which has proposed minimum land acquisition".
The Union minister, who flew into the city on Saturday, explained the National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011 to Banerjee.
"Rameshji has explained the bill to me. This new bill made by Rameshji is much more positive except on one or two points. I will give my view after a thorough study of the bill after few days," said Banerjee after coming out of the meeting.
Earlier, in an interview to a Bengali news channel, Banerjee said her party will back the bill on the floor of Parliament only if its suggestions were incorporated.
"Our state government has also made a new land policy and that says that we will not acquire land forcefully. She said exceptions could be made for purposes like defence, national
security and railways which are essentially public utility services.
"The previous land draft bill was opposed by me. The new bill says there will be no land acquisition for private sector. Only for public purpose they have kept 80-20 acquisition clause," said Banerjee.
"If they take our suggestions then only will we back the bill. Of the developed land, 10 percent should be returned. The compensation rate has to be more than the prevailing market rate along with a pension scheme for 10 years and a job," said Banerjee in the interview.
She said her government was totally against forcible acquisition but exceptions could be made for purposes like defence, national security and railways which are essentially public utility services.
"I am totally against acquisition of land for private purposes. Even for public purpose we should not go for acquisition unless it involves essential services."
Banerjee asserted that she was even prepared to go to jail to fulfil her promise of returning land to the farmers from whom land had been taken against their will by the erstwhile Left Front government for the Tata Motors Nano project.
The Banerjee government came out with the Singur Land Development and Rehabilitation Act to return land to the farmer. Tata Motors has challenged the Act in the Calcutta High Court.
"I can`t bluff the Singur farmers. I have no problems going to jail even," she said.