Political parties arrive at consensus on Land Acquisition Bill

Girija Shivakumar
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The Congress party-led government and opposition parties arrived at a “broad consensus” on the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011 on Thursday. The consensus paves way for consideration and passage of this significant Bill in the second part of the budget session of Parliament beginning Monday.

“The members (of various political parties) have evolved a consensus on the Bill. Of course, there cannot be unanimity, (but) everybody has largely agreed on the need for the Bill,” said Kamal Nath, Parliamentary Affairs minister.

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 to let individual states to decide.

The Bill provides for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced people. It seeks to replace the existing Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

The draft Bill proposes a compensation of four times the market value for people who give up their land for industrial and infrastructure projects in rural India. In urban areas, it will be twice the market value. It also seeks to address problems of industry when land is acquired for setting up projects.

A few opposition parties have expressed their displeasure over the compensation provisions in the draft Bill. They felt that the compensation is insufficient, and are in favour of proving permanent livelihood to those who lose their land.

“We need a comprehensive law on land use. It should be socially desirable, scientific and pro people. A comprehensive land law should be based on acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement of the people,” D. Raja, CPI leader told The Hindu.

Thursday's meeting was attended by Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Basudeb Acharia (CPI-M), Ramgopal Yadav (SP), D. Raja (CPI), B. Mahtab (BJD), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), M. and V. Maitreyan (AIADMK).

“The Bill will now move to the Lok Sabha where the Business Advisory Committee will allot time for debate and discussion” added Mr. Nath. During the previous all-party meeting BJP had asked the government to send the Bill back to the standing committee and bring it into Parliament during the monsoon session.

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