Land bill draft will go online for debate: Jairam (Lead)July 13th, 2011 - 7:08 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) Bringing his signature style of public consultation to his new job as rural development minister, Jairam Ramesh Wednesday said a draft of the new land acquisition bill will be put online next week for feedback, and introduced in the monsoon session of parliament.
Jairam Ramesh assumed charge of the new ministry immediately after taking oath as cabinet minister at Rashtrapati Bhawan Tuesday evening and highlighted the land acquisition bill as his key priority. He had discussions with his three ministers of state and senior officials that went past midnight.
The discussions covered different aspects of the rural development ministry, said informed sources.
On Wednesday, Jairam Ramesh, who made headlines for taking on powerful corporate lobbies in his previous stint as environment minister, was back in his office in the morning, and spoke to journalists about his priorities.
He said he has accepted the recommendations of the National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, on the controversial land acquisition bill. The government had last week indicated that it would not accept several guidelines mooted by the NAC.
“We will soon put out a draft bill for public debate by middle of next week. That was my approach in the environment ministry and it will be the same in the rural development ministry,” he said.
NAC member N.C. Saxena, who met the minister, said that the meeting was fruitful.
“We are meeting again on Saturday and are positive about it,” he said.
Besides compensation to land owners, Jairam Ramesh said that the issue of giving benefits to those whose livelihood depends on the land to be acquired also needs to be addressed.
“It is not just compensation to land owners but more important issue is to compensate those whose livelihood depends on the land being acquired. This is the most important matter. Compensation is the second important issue,” he said.
“The purpose for which the land is being acquired — whether it is for critical infrastructure or golf courses — are important issues that have to be discussed,” he said.
Land acquisition has become a politically charged issue, and was the highlight of the four-day march undertaken by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in some villages of Uttar Pradesh.
Indicating his resolve to infuse new energy into rural development programmes of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, Ramesh said a review of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and completion of the census of families living below poverty line (BPL) will be among his other priorities.
“The BPL census was last held in 2002. We hope to complete it by the end of the year,” the minister said.
“We will also review the NREGA. We need to find out whether Rs.40,000 crore spent on it has benefited the people,” he added.
In a reshuffle held Tuesday, Ramesh was moved from the environment ministry to rural development ministry as a cabinet minister.
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