Ramesh says draft land bill being modified, lauds Rahul (Lead)

August 12th, 2011 - 12:47 am ICT by IANS  

Rahul Gandhi New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Thursday said his ministry is working on some modifications in the draft land bill which will spell out public purpose for land acquisition in clearer terms, and added that provisions in the proposed law carried the impact of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Ramesh met a delegation of farmers from Uttar Pradesh, including those from Bhatta Parsaul in Greater Noida which was rocked by anti-land acquisition protests earlier this year.

The draft bill has been put out in public domain by the rural development ministry.

The minister said the bill was ready in a “short span of time” because of the initiative of Gandhi. The Congress scion went to Bhatta Parsaul in support of agitating farmers and carried out a march in western Uttar Pradesh where land has been acquired by the Mayawati government.

“Had his (Gandhi’s) initiative not been there, this draft bill would not have come in short span of time,” Ramesh said.

He said there were instances of “misuse” of land acquired for urbanisation, and that the issue of land acquisition for urbanisation and industrialisation should be treated differently.

The minister said there were suggestions concerning rehabilitation and resettlement policy as also for social impact study if over 50 acres of land were acquired for industry.

The draft bill states that rehabilitation and resettlement provisions will apply when private companies buy at least 100 acres on their own and the company approaches government for partial acquisition for public purpose.

The minister said modifications in the draft will be put out in public domain soon and added that the bill would be implemented with retrospective effect on the basis of stages of a project.

He said there were 18 other laws of central government for land acquisition relating to ministries, such as defence and railways.

Ramesh said he was personally against acquisition of multi-crop land but there were states, including Punjab and Haryana, who felt that there will be no industrialisation if acquisition of fertile land is banned totally.

Farmers urged Ramesh to substantially increase the amount of annuity for farmers whose lands are acquired under the proposed act.

The delegation, which was led by Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, said the term of annuity should be increased from 20 to 33 years.

“The annuity should be increased from Rs.2,000 to Rs.12,000 per month. It should be given for 33 years. If a land owner has five sons, all of them should be provided similar benefits,” a farmer said.

The draft bill says that land owners will be given Rs.2,000 per month per family as annuity for 20 years, with appropriate index for inflation. It also provides for mandatory employment for one member of per affected family or Rs.2 lakh if employment is not offered.

The farmers said that builders and industrialists should acquire land at market rates on lease and terms of the agreement should be decided through consultations.

They said that a national organisation should be formed to keep a tab on any violation by state governments.

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