Atiq Khan

To avoid controversy in the light of Special Economic Zones' issue

  • New resettlement and rehabilitation policy and law on the anvil
  • Says land allocation is State's responsibility but Centre is being blamed

    LUCKNOW: To avoid controversy surrounding the acquisition of land for development projects and Special Economic Zones (SEZs), the Centre will frame a new Land Acquisition Act. It will replace the 1894 Act.

    The Bill would be tabled in the coming monsoon session of Parliament.

    This was announced by Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh at a press conference here on Saturday. Mr. Ramesh said besides the Land Acquisition Act, the Central Government had also decided to introduce a new resettlement and rehabilitation policy as well as a new resettlement and rehabilitation Law.

    Poor track record

    Referring to the Central Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the Union Minister said although several amendments had been made to it, a more foolproof system was needed.

    Mr. Ramesh admitted that in the last 50 years, the Governments' track record on resettlement and rehabilitation has been poor, particularly in relation to the irrigation and power projects.

    Failure to resettle and adequately rehabilitate tended to leave a negative impact on the displaced persons, especially the tribal population. He said the Governments had not been serious on these crucial issues. In so far as the SEZs were concerned, the Minister said the Centre (Ministry of Commerce) had laid down strict guidelines that only 10 per cent of agricultural land could be acquired and the farmers should be duly compensated. Mr. Ramesh said the Central Government was being blamed for the controversy dogging the SEZs whereas the fact was that the allocation of land for SEZs was the responsibility of the State Government.

    He said the Empowered Group of Ministers on SEZs had suggested that the land limit should not exceed 5,000 hectares or 12,500 acres. And, 50 per cent of the land should be earmarked as the processing area where production took place.

    Emulate T.N. model

    He was of the view that the anchor investor for developing the SEZs should be an industrial house as was the case in Tamil Nadu, which has four SEZs, including those of Nokia and Motorola mobile phones. Mr. Ramesh said 80 per cent of proposals received by the Commerce Ministry were from five States, including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

    On SEZs in U.P.

    The Minister said the Uttar Pradesh Government should place emphasis on promoting SEZs at Agra (leather products), Moradabad (brassware), Kanpur (leather) and Varanasi (handloom products).

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