Shall farmers whose land has been acquired for various projects receive compensation retrospectively without any conditions? A section of Congress ministers believes so.
This section therefore wants some provisions of the land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement bill, 2013, tweaked before it is tabled in the Parliament. The government has five days to pass the bill during the ongoing monsoon session.
In its present form, the bill seeks the compensation that is four times the reigning market prices for the acquired land. At the same time, it has restricted the enhanced compensation to the cases where no formal land acquisition deal has been signed or where the land has been acquired five years ago but no compensation has been paid so far or the possession of the land acquired has not been taken yet.
In a meeting earlier this week, however, options were discussed to change these conditions. The meeting was attended by parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath, law minister Kapil Sibal and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh.
Congress sources said that a senior minister wants the retrospective clause to take effect from a cut off date, say January 2009. All deals after that date, irrespective of their status, should be eligible for enhanced compensation, the senior minister is learnt to have said.
Ramesh, however, refused to make any further changes in the bill. He also opposed Kamal Nath’s idea to call another all-party meeting for a discussion on the issue. The government managers had discussed the bill with various political parties before the session started.
Finance minister P Chidambaram had last year proposed that the compensation should be retrospectively calculated and provided to farmers. Subsequently, a group of ministers led by Sharad Pawar had included his proposal in the draft bill.
The naysayers fear if the enhanced compensation is paid retrospectively and without any conditions from a cut off date, cost of many projects is likely to increase substantially.