The six-year wait for the land bill, one of the UPA government’s most ambitious legislations, finally got over on Wednesday as the Rajya Sabha passed the bill that aims to prevent selling of land without the owner’s consent.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2012, however, will have to be cleared again in Lok Sabha as Jairam Ramesh added 3 new amendments to it in the Upper House. The new amendments relating to irrigation projects had been incorporated at the BJP’s insistence.
While the bill envisages 80% consent of farmers for any government acquisition for private projects, BJP’s Vinay Katiyar demanded during the debate that no less than 100% should be made mandatory for acquiring farm land for any purpose.
Katiyar, who initiated the debate, also demanded that if the acquired land remains unused for more than five years, then it should be returned to the farmers and not remain with the government. He also demanded removal of some “anti-farmer” clauses and setting up of a mechanism for fast track disposal of acquisition related disputes.
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, that had allegedly forced the UPA not to push the bill during 2009-2011, opposed the legislation although party MP Debabrat Bandopadhyay lauded several aspects of the bill.
CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechury admitted that the bill is in the right direction but said that it must ensure that the original landowners should continue to get a share from future sales of their lands. He also wanted proper definition of public purpose and total ban in invoking the “urgency clause” for government acquisition for private industries.