Amid a raging controversy over land acquisition norms, the government has firmed up the draft of a new Bill which makes consent of 80 per cent of land owners mandatory before purchase of land. The new draft Acquisition Bill, which is expected to be unveiled in the next few days, includes recommendations of Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) and goes even a step further.
“In many ways it is an improvement of what the NAC has said,” NC Saxena, a prominent member in the Sonia Gandhi-led panel, said after a discussion on the draft bill chaired by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday. “It has improved upon the NAC’s recommendation because we had suggested 70 per cent and they (rural development ministry) are now saying 80 per cent (land owners) should say yes to the acquisition,” Saxena said. Asked whether the Ministry has approved the NAC’s recommendation that government must acquire 100 per cent land, Saxena said NAC had never recommended that.
“NAC’s recommendation was enabling up to 100 per cent (land acquisition). It didn’t say that you have to (acquire) 100 per cent (land),” he said. Further clarifying that the proposed legislation is not a “compelling law,” Saxena said, “This is enabling law, which means depending upon the project, depending upon the state government’s viewpoint, the state government may acquire 0 per cent or 100 per cent or any amount in between”. There is a raging controversy over land acquisition in Greater Noida where farmers have been staging protests demanding higher compensation, prompting the Government to speed up efforts to bring in a land bill.
The ministry also agreed to NAC’s another recommendation to integrate in one bill provisions for both land acquisition and rehabilitation. “There will be one bill which will cover both acquisition for government purposes as well as for private companies but (when) land is to be given to private companies, then 80 per cent people must say yes and we increase the compensation to six times the registered value,” Saxena said. The NAC member said the “landless” — those who depend on the acquired land for their livelihood — will also be benefited. “They will get Rs 2,000 per month for 20 years,” Saxena said.
He said the bill will have an “emergency clause” for acquiring land for security purposes. “Only when the security of the people is involved, then we will cover it under the emergency clause. And we decided that whenever more than 100 acres of land are acquired, 26 amenities would be given including roads, power, housing, playground etc,” he said. The committee has also recommended that those who have been displaced because of land acquisition should be given Rs 3,000 per month for at least a year, he said. Saxena said there would be a “special provision” in the bill for Scheduled Tribes whose land would be acquired for the project.
“They would get minimum one acre of land wherever land is acquired and everyone will get one acre of land those who are losing their land if it is for irrigation project,” he said.
“But for all projects, Scheduled Tribes, because they are dependent on land and in order to discourage acquisition of land in tribal areas, we are suggesting that every ST family should get one acre of land,” Saxena said.
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