Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said the 2013 Land Acquisition Act would come into force on January 1, 2014.

The Ministry’s website specifies draft rules elaborating the process of implementation of the law, and also invites comments from stakeholders, including industries, non-governmental organisations and civil society.

Besides, the Minister has agreed to set up a permanent Rules Advisory Committee at the Central level comprising State governments and these stakeholders to review implementation of these rules.

The bill proposes a unified legislation for acquisition of land and adequate rehabilitation mechanisms for all affected persons.

Mr. Ramesh took the decision after considering another view, particularly of State governments, that the Act replacing a 119-year-old legislation should be notified from April 1, 2014.

“The sooner we notify the Act, lesser the uncertainty,” Mr. Ramesh said.

Some State governments held that if the law is notified during the beginning of the new financial year, they would get “some time” to establish necessary infrastructure for its implementation.

However, with the Centre deciding to implement the Act early, State governments would have to set up at least six bodies soon, including the state-level Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority, to hear disputes arising out of projects where land acquisition had been initiated by the State or its agencies.

According to the draft rules released by the Ministry on Monday, governments should take immediate steps to create and establish the State Social Impact Assessment Unit, the office of the Commissioner Rehabilitation and Resettlement, and the State- Level Monitoring Committee.

Additionally, for each project, governments should also constitute bodies, including an expert group to appraise Social Impact Assessment, the office of the Administrator Rehabilitation and Resettlement, and Project Level Committees.

Mr. Ramesh said the law would be an enabling one and States were free to complement it with their own laws as long as the provisions of the original law were not diluted. All these mechanisms should be put in place before December, he said.

At the Central level, a National Monitoring Committee should be constituted for reviewing and monitoring the implementation of rehabilitation and resettlement schemes or plans under the new Act.

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