A consensus on the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011 was achieved on Thursday after the government accepted key demands of the BJP regarding leasing of land and compensation reaching the original farmer-owners, and that of the left regarding rights of tenants.

Several concerns were addressed by the government in order to clinch this consensus including accepting BJP’s suggestion that land should be leased and not acquired — as that will not change the ownership. The Government has agreed that individual States can pass legislation regarding leasing of land and limits of acquisition.

The BJP wanted 50 per cent compensation to the original farmers whose land has been purchased after the introduction of the Bill in Lok Sabha in September of 2011. Raising the issue in the meeting of parties, Ms. Swaraj said the “land mafia” was on a land-purchase spree in many parts of the country after the introduction of the Bill, anticipating that the measure will be passed soon and they can reap the benefits.

If that happens, the farmers who have sold land at a lesser price will not benefit from the Land Acquisition Act, she said and asked the government to have a provision specifying that there will be sharing of half the benefits with the original farmers. The meeting also agreed to CPI(M)’s demand that a provision of the Bill that gives powers to the government to amend the schedule should not be misused to dilute the compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement package.

The government has also agreed to look into another demand by the CPI(M) that tenants should also get the benefit of compensation.

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