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New rehabilitation policy for land owners

Govt unveils a new policy to make the displacement of people for industrial growth a less painful experience, report Aloke Tikku & Satyen Mohapatra.
Hindustan Times | By Aloke Tikku & Satyen Mohapatra, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 12, 2007 03:08 AM IST

The government on Thursday unveiled a new rehabilitation policy that intends to make the displacement of people for industrial growth a less painful experience.

Land in return for land for displaced families, preference in project jobs to at least a member of each family, vocational training, scholarships for children and housing benefits including houses to affected families in rural and urban areas are some of the benefits under this new policy.

The policy and the amendments in land acquisition laws approved by the Cabinet on Thursday also make Social Impact Assessments of projects that affect more than 400 families in the plains (and 200 families in hilly areas) mandatory.

Furthermore, the policy requires the Centre to set up a National Rehabilitation Commission empowered to independently evaluate the satisfactory rehabilitation and resettlement of affected families. The concept of post-implementation social audits has also been made.

The policy was necessitated by violent protests in West Bengal, Maharashtra and Orissa by farmers who were displaced from their land for the setting up of factories and special economic zones. In light of this resentment, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had asked the government to frame a humane and equitable policy.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said the new policy is aimed at striking a balance between the need for land for development and protecting the interests of land owners, tenants and others who depend on that property for livelihood. One way the policy strives to achieve this is by giving displaced people the right to share the fruits of industrial growth. “Entitled persons shall have the option of taking up to 20 per cent of their rehabilitation grant and compensation amount in the form of shares if the acquiring entity is a firm authorised to issue shares and debentures,” he said.

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