Asks Jairam to take Mamata on board while fixing acquisition issues
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday gave Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh the green signal for his proposal to integrate in one bill the provisions for land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement.
After calling on Dr. Singh for the first time since he assumed office, Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu that he had sought the Prime Minister's approval for a single Bill to cover the two issues, whereas his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh had prepared separate legislation.
Mr. Ramesh's proposal is similar to what the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council had suggested.
However, he clarified that his Ministry would prepare a separate rehabilitation and resettlement bill for large projects and national calamities.
Mr. Deshmukh had planned separate legislation for land acquisition and rehabilitation, but said the NAC's proposal for a composite Bill could be considered later.
At his meeting with the Prime Minister, Mr. Ramesh highlighted the main concern over bridging the extremely diverse stands taken on land acquisition by the NAC and West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. The NAC had proposed that the Centre acquire the entire land needed for any project, whereas Ms. Banerjee wants the process of acquisition left to private players with no government intervention.
Dr. Singh directed Mr. Ramesh to take Ms. Banerjee on board. Following this, he conferred with TMC MP D. Bandyopadhyay, who is considered her adviser on land-related issues.
Mr. Ramesh will send his draft proposal for Mr. Bandyopadhyay's consideration before taking a decision.
Dr. Singh also approved the proposal to put the draft bill in the public domain and told Mr. Ramesh that there was no need to rush things through.
Mr. Ramesh said the details would be made public by this weekend.
The Prime Minister called for greater accountability in the spending of the department's budgetary provision of Rs.90,000 crore to ensure that the money had the maximum impact.