Government on Wednesday introduced in the Lok Sabha a bill that provides for just and fair compensation and makes it compulsory for consent of 80% people of any area where land is to be acquired for developmental purposes.
The much-awaited Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, was introduced by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh after making some changes in its earlier draft. The proposed legislation will replace a more than century old act.
Ramesh said that the adverse impact on affected families -economic, environmental, social and cultural - must be assessed in participatory and transparent manner.
The final version of the bill, prepared after pre-legislative consultation with various stakeholders, clearly states that multi-crop irrigated land could be acquired "as a last resort measure."
The first draft had said the government did not envisage acquiring "any multi-crop irrigated land" for public purposes.
"To ensure food security, multi-crop irrigated land shall be acquired only as a last resort measure," says the bill.
It also proposes to develop an equivalent area of culturable wasteland, if multi-crop land is acquired.
The bill also says only rehabilitation and resettlement provisions will apply when private companies buy land for a project - more than 100 acres in rural areas, or more than 50 acres in urban areas.
"Public purpose" has been comprehensively defined, so that government's intervention in acquisition is limited to "defence, (and) certain development projects only."
"It has also been ensured that consent of at least 80% of the project affected families is to be obtained through a prior informed process," Ramesh said.
The bill also proposes to include provision for creation of a land bank in states to keep the acquired land with it if it is not used in 10 years by the concerned party.
Provision in the first draft was to return the land to original owner if it was not used in five years for the purpose for which it is acquired.
"Land that is not used within 10 years in accordance with the purposes, for which it was acquired, shall be transferred to the state government's Land Bank," says the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.