Even as the government gets ready to circulate the cabinet note on amendments to the land acquisition act, the apex advisory body of the country has proposed repealing of the 1894 act.
A working group of National Advisory Council (NAC) has proposed a National Development, Acquisition Displacement and Rehabilitation Act in place of the two separate bills on land acquisition and rehabilitation that the government is set to introduce in monsoon session of Parliament."Both bills are intrinsically inter related — one providing compensation and other a rehabilitation package," NAC said quoting from a Parliament standing committee report while recommending repealing of the 117-year-old act.
On May 13, Hindustan Times had reported that NAC is reviewing the government bill to make it more transparent and acceptable.
Gains to the displaced should be at the same scale as those accrued by the people benefiting from the project, the draft to be approved by NAC chief Sonia Gandhi summarises the farmer-friendly orientation.
The recommendations from the group under Harsh Mander pulls up the government bill for not coming clean on the objectives of acquisition and rehabilitation.
Pressing its earlier recommendation of land-for-land in case of tribals, the group now wants dalits added to the criteria, "to discourage acquisition of tribal and dalit land," and also where the plan is an irrigation project.
The group admits that on the major issue of what constitutes public purpose — the most contentious part of the bill — there is no agreement.
While NC Saxena supports government involvement in acquiring land for private projects to stop exploitation, Mander and Aruna Roy opined that "projects for the benefit of private interests, should be excluded".
Saxena has recommended prior consent of at least 70% of the project affected people to go ahead with a project.