To win support for land bill, Jairam writes to ministers
Canvassing support for his version of the contentious land acquisition bill, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has written to key ministers highlighting how the bill protects the interest of the industries.
Ramesh’s move — in a ‘frequently asked questions’ format — assumes significance as cabinet ministers like Anand Sharma and Kamal Nath had favoured a more industry-friendly face of the bill. It also comes amid the UPA government’s host of recent measures to appease investors and boost the economy.
A pro-active Ramesh put forth his arguments to all members of the group of ministers (GoM) that was constituted to review the bill well ahead of its first meeting on September 27.
Ramesh pointed out that under the current bill, consent is required only from two thirds of land losers for acquiring land. Earlier, 80% of all project affected families-both land losers and livelihood losers-were required to give consent.
Keeping in mind the controversy over the retrospective tax proposals in this year’s general budget, the new land bill has made applicable prospectively — for new acquisitions. Ramesh pointed out that “earlier the bill was to apply retrospectively to ongoing land acquisitions where award had not been made or possession not taken.”
In his bid to address one of the biggest concerns of investors that the bill will push up land prices, Ramesh explained how it is ensured that acquisition price doesn't form the basis for compensation calculation in future acquisitions. “Also power has been given to the Collector to not consider transactions which he feels are outliers,” he wrote.
The delayed land bill was referred to a GoM last month after several ministers raised objections in a cabinet meeting. But efforts are on to pass the bill in next session of Parliament.