The new land acquisition law, replacing a 119-year-old legislation, will be notified in the next two months, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said today.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013, passed by Parliament during the Monsoon Session, received the President's assent on Friday.
The bill will come into effect once the notification is issued in next two months providing for just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land could be acquired forcibly, Ramesh told a press conference here.
He said the new land acquisition law will go a long way in addressing concerns of farmers and tribals as a new clause on resettlement and rehabilitation has been introduced for the first time in the original Act of 1894.
"It (the Act) has come at a right time. There had been disappointment among farmers...Protests were seen throughout the country (against unjustified land acquisition). These protests will cease to exist provided the new law is implemented sincerely," he said, dubbing the previous Land Acquisition Act as "colonial" and "anti-democratic".
All state governments are free to enact their own land acquisition laws, but they cannot undermine the law enacted by the Centre, the minister said.
"Law enacted by the Centre has established a broad basis. States can add to this new law but cannot undermine it. For the first time, a clause ensuring resettlement and rehabilitation is introduced in the new Act," he said.
Ramesh said the earlier Act had been misused frequently since most of the states acquired more than required land for various purposes.
"District collectors used to decide on compensation to farmers. There was no provision on resettlement and rehabilitation in the erstwhile act," he said.
Ramesh pointed out due to absence of provision on the resettlement and rehabilitation in 1894 Act, as many as three to four crore tribals from mineral-rich areas in Central India like Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra, had been displaced.
"This had paved the way for spreading the Maoist ideology in these regions. The problem of Naxal of menace is largely due to (the old) Land Acquisition law," he added.