The pathetic track record of rehabilitation and resettlement of more than three crore displaced tribals since independence is the key cause of Maoist problem in India, said Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Rural Development in Mumbai on Sunday.

The Minister said that the new land acquisition bill will ensure that the displaced tribals and farmers get their due rights.

The act, renamed as ‘The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’ has been signed by the President of India and is expected to be notified within next two months. The Central Government has changed the 119 years old act, which was said to be the root cause of number of struggles by tribals and farmers against the forceful acquisition of their lands.

The new act has been opposed by activists like Medha Patkar, claiming it as less progressive than expected, and by a few business groups, claiming it to be against industrialisation.

Mr. Ramesh claimed that the act will not work against idustrialisation and urbanisation. “I am happy that the act is opposed by both sides. Which means that I have taken a middle path and that is good for the country,” he said, calling the concerns as exaggerated. Mr. Ramesh said that though at first glance the financial price for land acquisition seems to go up, it will bring down the social price of it.

He made it clear that the government cannot force industrialisation and urbanisation on people by police firing. “The less conflict driven and tribal and farmer friendly path of industrialisation will be paved by this act,” he said adding that new act will also be applicable for land acquisitions of all future Special Economic Zones.

The Minister accepted that misplaced and unkempt land records in the country are major reasons for trouble over land acquisition. The National Land Record Modernisation Program is expected to ‘reasonably update’ the land records across the country in next four to five years.

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