Union Minister Jairam Ramesh calls new law a “sensitive package”

Noting that State after State witnessed strife due to unfair land acquisitions, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh has said the new Land Acquisition Act that replaced the 119-year-old legislation offers a “sensitive package”.

The Union Minister, who had pushed for the law, expressed satisfaction at the ‘historic’ statute on Saturday, a day after the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013 received the assent of the President of India.

Speaking at a function organised by the Malabar Chamber of Commerce here, Mr. Ramesh compared the 1894 Act with the present one.

“Unlike the 1894 Act which caused untold misery to landowners, the landless, and the tribal population, the 2013 Act ensures fair compensation to land owners and transparency in acquisition proceedings. It is less draconian and less subject to arbitrariness,” the Union Minister said.

He termed the 1894 Act as a colonial era law which offered compensation “much below the fair rate”.

“The 1894 Act was not able to prevent acquisition of land, which was more than necessary. Land would be acquired and not used for 20 to 30 years. Land taken for a public purpose would be diverted to private builders. It was silent on the rehabilitation and re-settlement of displaced persons…the law could do nothing about it,” he said. The Rural Development Ministry was in the process of framing rules for the new Act, he said.

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