The UPA government has decided to consult all the Chief Ministers, political parties and other stakeholders after posting on the web the draft land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement Bill by Saturday.

Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh told journalists he would be sending a copy of the draft legislation to all the Chief Ministers and seek their comments. He will also be conferring with some of them personally.

Mr. Ramesh stressed that he would devote at least a month to the pre-legislation consultative process. Only if he completed the process in time, would he table the Bill by the end of the monsoon session, which is scheduled to conclude on September 8.

While acknowledging the cooperation of the National Advisory Council, of which Sonia Gandhi is chairperson, and the Planning Commission, Mr. Ramesh said he needed to hold more consultations with the Trinamool Congress to take the ally on board.

To a question whether he would go to Kolkata, he said he would be talking again to Trinamool MP D. Bandyopadhyay during the monsoon session. The Trinamool is opposed to any government role in land acquisition, while the NAC favoured a crucial role for the government.

Mr. Ramesh said the thrust would be on the process of acquisition of land, the compensation package and how to implement the rehabilitation and resettlement provisions. The legislation would be limited to acquisition of land and the proposed Bill would in no way ban sale and purchase of land in the normal course.

The Minister said he would be consulting all political parties. He had held a round of discussions with Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav.

He said he had received representations from farmers, industries associations and civil society members. All stakeholders will be consulted before giving final shape to the Bill.

Policy changes

Regarding the nine flagship programmes of his ministry, Mr. Ramesh said he had instructed his officials to propose comprehensive policy changes in each one of them, including the MGNREGS, by August 30.

One of the objectives of the exercise would be to treat all the 60 naxalite-affected districts differently. Mr. Ramesh did not rule out amending the laws where needed. He will be holding a meeting of the district magistrates of Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Placement for dropouts

Mr. Ramesh announced a programme under the National Rural Livelihood Mission to guarantee placements to one lakh school and college dropouts in Jammu and Kashmir, to go with the programme being taken up by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs to provide one lakh jobs to college graduates in the Valley over the next five years.

The programme would be launched after September 15 and the target for the current year would be jobs for at least 8,000 youths.