Today's Paper

Lok Sabha passes landmark land Bill

The long-pending Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Thursday night after Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh assured the House that there was enough room for State governments to implement it as per their specific requirements.

The Bill is only setting a bottomline for fair compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement in the case of land acquisition and State Governments were free to improve upon it, the Minister said in his reply to the nearly five-hour discussion. Given reservations expressed by some States on the earlier proposal to ban the acquisition of multi-crop irrigated land, he said flexibility had been factored into the legislation. The Bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha for its approval.

Voting on the Bill took nearly three-hours to complete. There was a last minute hiccup when the Trinamool Congress demanded that a clause for taking consent of 80 per cent of the landowners for private projects be changed to 100 per cent as was prevalent in West Bengal.

The Minister said the State was free to change this provision but it could not be changed in the Bill. The Bill had to be put to vote and was adopted with 216 of the 239 members present voting for it.

Pressing ahead with UPA’s ‘Aam Admi’ agenda, the Bill 2011 seeks to replace a century-old land acquisition law dating back to 1894. The Food Security Bill, dubbed as a “game-changer” and part of the “empowerment revolution,” was passed by the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The Bill proposes that up to four times the market value should be paid to farmers and landowners for land acquired in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.

According to the Minister, the Bill conveys the Government’s determination to address “widespread and historical injustices.” Another key feature is that the consent of 80 per cent of land owners is needed for acquiring land for private projects and of 70 per cent landowners for public-private projects.

“Public purpose,” as per the Bill, includes mining, infrastructure, defence, manufacturing zones, roads, railways, and ports built by the government and public sector enterprises.

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