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Comprehensive land acquisition bill soon: Govt

The government is formulating a comprehensive land acquisition bill that will address concerns about process of acquiring land for purposes such as setting up SEZs and compensation to be paid.

delhi Updated: Aug 20, 2010 15:36 IST

The government is formulating a comprehensive land acquisition bill that will address concerns about process of acquiring land for purposes such as setting up SEZs and compensation to be paid. Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Minister of State for Agriculture K V Thomas said a group of ministers (GoM) was considering a bill to reform land acquisition law. "Government of India proposes to bring a comprehensive Land Acquisition Bill soon," he said. Land comes under the purview of the state governments. However, to prevent conversion of agriculture land for non-agriculture purposes, the Centre has in place the National Policy for Farmers, 2007 which envisages that prime farmland must be conserved for agriculture, he said. Only under exceptional circumstances agriculture land can be diverted for non-agriculture purposes provided that the state government make it up by developing an equivalent degraded/wasteland elsewhere into agriculture land, he said. For non-agricultural purposes, land with low biological potential for farming should be earmarked and allocated, the policy says. "We can only give guidelines and it is for the state governments to follow," he said. "Policy of the government is as far as possible, fertile land should be used for agriculture purpose only." The National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2007 also provides that as far as possible projects may be set up on wasteland, degraded or un-irrigated land. "State governments have been advised that in case of land acquisition for Special Economic Zones (SEZs), first priority should be for acquisition of waste and barren land and if necessary, single crop agriculture land could be acquired," he said. "If perforce a portion of double cropped agricultural land has to be acquired to meet the minimum area requirements, especially for multi-product SEZs, the same should not exceed 10 per cent of the total land required for the SEZs," he said. The Centre has decided not to approve any SEZ where state governments have carried out or propose to carry out compulsory acquisition of land for such SEZs after April 5, 2007, he added.