Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh feels that the industries’ fear about the land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement bill is “largely exaggerated and overblown”.
Defending the purpose of the bill, even at a time when the government is desperately wooing investments to revive the economy, Ramesh said, “this bill will benefit farmers, Tribals, Dalits and livelihood earners. So, India will benefit. The land bill is in the national interest.”
The minister, who piloted the landmark bill that makes consent of the farmers a must for any acquisition, also had no qualms to admit that the cost of acquisition will go up. He, however, argued, “It (the cost escalation) will happen only if the private parties want the government to acquire land for them. If they buy land directly, these clauses will not be applicable. The industries are free to strike deals directly.”
Rejecting the view that it is anti-investment, Ramesh said on Friday that the law should be seen in its entirety and not just from the industries’ viewpoint. “The cost of acquisition will go up. But it will not necessarily be a lengthier process. The entire process will also be more humane.”
Ramesh also pointed out that the LRR Bill will lead to more empowerment of Tribals. “the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act had spoken about consultations with Tribals for acquiring their land. Now, we are talking about consent of the Tribals and land owners.”
“The land bill is just a transitional arrangement. Twenty years from now, India should not have a act for land deals,” Ramesh added.