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Cabinet push for land acquisition bill

With Mamata Banerjee expected to breach the Red Fort in Bengal on Friday, the government has begun pushing the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill for Cabinet approval. The Bill is also expected to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament.

delhi Updated: May 10, 2011 23:38 IST
Prasad Nichenametla

With Mamata Banerjee expected to breach the Red Fort in Bengal on Friday, the government has begun pushing the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill for Cabinet approval. The Bill is also expected to be introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament.

“A new cabinet note along with certain suggestions to the Bill is prepared, which will be circulated now. With the approval of the PMO, the Bill should come up before Cabinet in a fortnight,” said rural development minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, whose department of land resources prepared the Bill.

The much-debated and delayed Bill to change the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 was put on hold primarily because of opposition from Banerjee, chief of the Trinamool Congress, the UPA’s principal ally. Though the 14th Lok Sabha in its last lap — February 2009 — passed the Bill, it lapsed with dissolution of the house.

Banerjee, whose rise in Bengal is credited to her anti-land acquisition movements in Singur and Nandigram, does not want to be seen as approving of the “controversial” Bill allowing the state governments to acquire land for private industry.

“Now that she is poised to be the chief minister who has responsibility to develop industry that requires land, she will appreciate the need of the Bill. The Bill would be introduced in the coming Parliament session,” a senior minister said.

The union railway minister not only raised objections in cabinet meetings but also obstructed the Bill’s introduction in Parliament last year.

According to one official, the Bill will retain the 70:30 clause that allows a state government acquire up to 30% of the land required for a private industry to ensure a project “beneficial to general public”.

The ministry though suggested a buy-back option for the farmers parting with their land. “Our proposal is that the project should come up within a stipulated time, failing which the affected person could take back the land — returning some part of compensation,” the official said.