The cabinet on Monday approved the draft Land Acquisition, Relief and Rehabilitation Bill with changes that take away some of the farmer-friendly features it boasted of and some of the teeth industry was concerned about. The Bill will be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
The approval came with changes in the draft following objections and suggestions from Paschim Banga chief minister Mamata Banerjee as well as industry bodies. The main features of the Bill include a provision for relief and rehabilitation, not seen in the form of a legislation in the past.
These provisions would apply on acquisition of land beyond 100 acres in urban areas and 50 acres in rural areas. While the earlier draft offered a compensation of six times the market rate, the approved Bill cut it down to four times. While the draft provided for return of unused land after five years to the original owner, the Bill says if the land is not used for the stated purpose it will be returned to the state government land authority and not the owner. While the original draft excluded all irrigated multi-crop land from acquisition, the Bill would allow acquisition of such land up to five per cent provided an equal area of wasteland in the district is developed.
|LAW OF THE LAND|
|* No public consent required for railways, ports, highways and canals|
|* Consent of 80 per cent public required for all other acquisition beyond 100 acres|
|* Compensation to be four times the market rate in rural areas, double in urban areas|
|* Rs 5 lakh compensation to displaced persons|
|* Displaced family has to be paid Rs 3,000 a month for 20 years|
|* 20 per cent of developed land to be given to owners|
|* 20 per cent profit on each transfer of land within 10 years to be shared with owners|
The Bill would also allow the government to acquire land for private companies for a public purpose if it is more than 100 acres. The definition of public purpose includes infrastructure, urbanisation and strategic purposes. It is not clear if these would require consent of the public. The Bill rules out the need for consent for public projects like railways, power projects and canals.
The draft had provided for consent of the public for almost all acquisition except that done by the government or public sector strictly for a public purpose.
By and large, the draft pushed by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and by the National Advisory Council has prevailed with some changes here and there. Ramesh said the final shape of the Bill would be decided when it went to the standing committee. All stakeholders would have a chance to put in their views then, he said.
The industry has expressed apprehensions about the Bill especially the R&R (rehabilitation and resettlement) component, saying it is impracticable while the civil society has criticised it for not giving any role to the community and reducing the Bill to a land apportionment procedure rather than a process of inclusive development.
Medha Patkar expressed surprise the Bill had been approved by the cabinet without consultations with people in various states. R R Singh, director general, Naredco (National Real Estate Development Council), said the compensation could have been reduced to double the market rate.
Business chamber, Ficci, which had opposed many of the conditions in the draft Bill, said a central law on land acquisition was welcome.
One of the problem areas was the retrospective effect clause, it said, which would adversely impact the industry.
Anshuman Magazine, managing director (South Asia), CB Richard Ellis, a leading real estate consultancy, argued the Bill looked like a job done in a hurry. Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said it was welcome that R&R was dealt with land acquisition comprehensively in the same legislation.
At the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the purpose was to impart balance to the process of land acquisition. According to sources, Trinamool Congress’s Dinesh Trivedi upheld his party chief Mamata Banerjee’s view that in all land acquisition matters, the role of the state should be supreme. Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar did not agree. “More compensation to land holders has side effects and would set wrong trends in acquisition. My apprehension is the owners will get excessive powers of negotiation and it would result in stalled projects,” Pawar is learnt to have said.