After passing the Food Bill, Lok Sabha will take up tomorrow another landmark legislation of the UPA – the Land Acquisition Bill – that seeks to provide “just and fair” compensation to families whose land has been acquired for industrial purposes.

The much-talked about bill proposes payment of compensation that is up to four times the market value in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh will move the Bill, which aims at making affected persons partners in development, leading to an improvement in their post- acquisition social and economic status.

Ramesh said the Bill, renamed as “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012” conveys government’s determination to address “widespread and historical injustices”.

This has been done by establishing strong legal prerequisites that need to be discharged first while acquiring land.

The Bill will replace over a century-old Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which suffers from various shortcomings, including silence on the issue of resettlement and rehabilitation of those displaced by the acquisition of land.

Besides, it had the much criticised ‘Urgency Clause’ which never truly defines what constitutes an urgent need and leaves it to the discretion of the acquiring authority.

Apart from this, it provided low rates of compensation.

The Bill is being brought for consideration and passage after two all-party meetings, which made the government accept five key amendments suggested by BJP leader Sushma Swaraj and Left parties.

The Union Cabinet had approved the amendments amid the government’s efforts to create broad-based political consensus on the key legislation.

Among the amendments approved by Cabinet was the one suggested by Swaraj that instead of acquisition, land could be leased to developers so that its ownership remain with farmers and provide them regular annual income.

Swaraj had also suggested provision for payment of 50 per cent compensation to original owners whose land was purchased after introduction of the Bill in Lok Sabha in September 2011.

Moving out of its way to create political consensus on the Bill, the Cabinet also agreed to this suggestion.

The Bill ensures that farmers get a fair deal and that there is no forcible acquisition of their land.

In cases where PPP projects are involved or acquisition is taking place for private companies, the Bill requires consent of no less than 70 per cent and 80 per cent respectively (in both cases) of those whose land is sought to be acquired.

“This ensures that no forcible acquisition can take place,” Ramesh said.

According to Rural Development Ministry officials, this will be the very first law that links land acquisition with accompanying obligations for resettlement and rehabilitation.

“Over five chapters and two entire Schedules have been dedicated to outlining elaborate processes (and entitlements) for resettlement and rehabilitation,” an official said.

Courtesy: outlook india