June 7, 2009

New land acquisition policy to be introduced

New Delhi, June 05, 2009: President Pratibha Patil today said the government would reintroduce the Amendment Bill to the Land Acquisition Act and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill in the forthcoming budget session of Parliament.

If the Bills are enacted, it will not only help in better implementation of infrastructure and industrial projects, but also safeguard the interests of farmers. That is because both the Bills contain clear guidelines to be followed while acquiring land, like compensation package and the quantum of land to be acquired.

“It will be our endeavor to have these Bills reintroduced and enacted in the budget session of Parliament,” Patil said in her speech to joint session of the Parliament.

Both the Bills were mooted in the backdrop of violent protests across the country in 2007 against acquisition of land by state governments for industrial projects in West Bengal, Haryana, Maharashtra as well as Goa. Many of these projects were related to special economic zones (SEZs).

The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill limits the role of the government in land acquisition for private projects. Broadly, this Bill allows government to acquire only 30 per cent of the land for private projects, while the rest will have to be bought by the developer himself. Moreover, land rights will be extended to tenant farmers, artisans and those indirectly drawing sustenance from the land in question. Also, compensation could be in the form of jobs and equity shares in the company that has bought the land.

The Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) Bill lays down guidelines on how the people affected by projects will have to be rehabilitated and the contours of compensation packages. In addition, this Bill also seeks to set up a National Rehabilitation Commission.

Experts point out that delay in enacting both these bills has impacted government projects, especially in infrastructure sector.

A recent assessment by the government had revealed that about 60 projects related to the Indian Railways, 20 power plants and 40 road projects were help up due to land related problems.

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