Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday described the new Land Acquisition Bill as a “historic piece of legislation” and affirmed that it would help reduce the influence of Naxalites in the tribal-dominated regions through its provisions for rehabilitation and resettlement of families displaced by land acquisition.
The Rural Development Ministry was at present engaged in framing of rules under the statute and the Act would be notified early next year, said Mr. Ramesh at a press conference here.
The States which would benefit the most from the “landmark law” are Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha where a strong Maoist influence is visible, according to Mr. Jairam. He said the new Bill would enable the State Governments to solve the problems of the rural populace regarding their forest and land rights and eliminate the Naxal problem in the next five to six years.
Mr. Jairam said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s important suggestions had been incorporated in the Bill to make the land acquisition process transparent and pay adequate compensation to those whose land was taken away. Farmers, Dalits and tribals would get the biggest benefit from the Bill, he added.
The Union Minister pointed out that the land title deeds were earlier given to about 13 lakh tribals under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. The new legislations on right to information, right to work, right to education, food security and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme enacted in the United Progressive Alliance’s second stint had established “milestones of legal rights” for the public, he said.
Mr. Ramesh pointed out that farmers would get 40 per cent of compensation from the Government on the land acquired from a middleman who bought it privately. Similarly, the land title holders would get four times compensation of the actual land price in rural areas and two times in urban areas.
Referring to the tribal region in southern Rajasthan, Mr. Ramesh said the Gram Sabha’s permission would be required for executing the orders for land acquisition, while the Gram Sabha's advisory would be needed in the non-tribal districts. The tribal-dominated districts in the State are Udaipur, Banswara, Dungarpur, Pratapgarh, Chittorgarh and Bhilwara.
However, Mr. Ramesh did not comment on the controversies surrounding the alleged land deals of Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra in Bikaner district and the selection of land for the upcoming oil refinery in Barmer district.