GoM approves Land Acquisition Bill

he Hindu, October 16, 2012

It will be introduced in Parliament in winter session

After three rounds of vigorous debate, a Group of Ministers has approved the controversial Land Acquisition Bill, with few changes from the version presented to the Union Cabinet last month.

This paves the way for the Bill to be introduced in Parliament in the winter session.

Landowner consent

Despite sharp divisions over the consent requirements, sources at the GoM indicated that the final draft says only two-thirds of landowners will have to agree before land can be acquired for private sector projects as well as joint private-public partnerships.

The original Bill had called for 80 per cent consent from both landowners as well as those who stood to lose their livelihood. Industry lobbyists had pushed for this requirement to be diluted.

It is not clear what has been decided on the other controversial issue of retrospective effect. The original Bill had stipulated that its compensation and rehabilitation provisions would apply retrospectively to ongoing acquisitions which had not yet completed the process of land transfer under the old Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Sources say this clause has been removed and instead, a cut-off date ? to be decided later ? will be set for the new Act?s provisions to come into force.

?The Bill is finalised. We have finalised the draft,? Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who chaired the GoM, told journalists after the meeting. ?On each and every issue where there were different views, we succeeded in bringing [about] some understanding.?

The Bill, now named The Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill, was originally introduced in Parliament in September 2011.

Thereafter, it was referred to a Standing Committee. The Cabinet, which considered a revised draft last month, referred the Bill to the GoM after several Ministers objected to provisions that were seen as hurdles to infrastructure development and investor sentiment.

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