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Controversial Land Acquisition bill cleared by GoM

October 16, 2012 20:48 IST

Overcoming sharp differences, a Group of Ministers on Tuesday cleared the long-delayed controversial Land Acquisition Bill, paving the way for its introduction in Parliament in the forthcoming Winter Session.

The final draft of the bill now proposes consent of two-third of "land losers" (from whom land would be purchased) for acquiring land for public-private-partnership and private projects, sources said.

It has no retrospective clause and instead there will be a cut-off date to be decided later, they said.

The GoM was sharpy divided on these aspects, with a number of ministers opposing the retrospective clause as well as the original proposal for 80 per cent consent by both "livelihood losers and land losers" before land could be acquired.

"The bill is finalised. We have finalised the draft," said Agriculture Minister and head of the GoM Sharad Pawar after an hour-long meeting on the 'The Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition' Bill.

"Each and every issue on which there were different views, we succeeded in bringing some understanding," he told media persons after the third meeting of the 14-member GoM.

He did not specify but the differences within the GoM related to certain clauses including compensation issues, retrospective acquisitions and percentage of land owners whose consent would be required.

Asked specifically about the issue of compensation on which some members had different views, Pawar said, "that also is successfully resolved."

He said the bill will now be placed before the Cabinet after minutes of the GoM meetings are circulated along with suggestions if any member has.

"We have found a very consensual approach to a very important bill. That is what the GoM was set up for," Law Minister Salman Khurshid said.

He said the bill would be introduced in Parliament, possibly in the Winter Session.

GoM members, including Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Road Transport Minister C P Joshi and Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath were opposed to certain clauses, arguing that these could shy away investors.

Defence Minister A K Antony, who is a member of the GoM, had said at the last meeting that the government should stay away from helping private parties in acquiring land and step in to help PPP projects only when absolutely necessary.

The government had constituted the GoM about a month back after some ministers voiced strong reservations against certain provisions of the Bill at the Cabinet meeting.

The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011 was introduced in Parliament in September last year and was referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which submitted its recommendations in May.

The Bill has been hanging fire since long even though the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi has been pushing for the law and has framed its broad contours.

 

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