New rehabilitation policy
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 11
The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also decided to bring a legislation on the lines of the new Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, and to suitably amend the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
The new policy, The National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement, 2007, which will replace the National Policy on Resettlement and Rehabilitation for Project Affected Families, 2003, provides for the acquisition of up to 30 per cent land by states to give a crucial contiguity to the developers, be those of special economic zones (SEZs) or industrial projects.
The UPA government had been working on the new policy for nearly one year following widespread protest by farmers and people over the manner in which their land was being acquired for SEZs and industrial projects.
The new policy seeks to make those entitled for compensation stakeholders in development by allowing them to take up to 20 per cent of the amount in the form of shares if the acquiring entity is authorised to issue these instruments.
A special provision has also been made for providing life-time monthly pension to the vulnerable persons such as the disabled, destitute, orphans, widows, unmarried girls, abandoned women, or persons above 50 years, who are not provided or cannot immediately be provided with alternative livelihood in the event of the acquisition of their land.
“The new policy and the associated legislative measures aim at striking a balance between the need for land for developmental activities and, at the same time protecting the interests of the land owners, and others such as the tenants, the landless, the agricultural and non-agricultural labourers, artisans, and others whose livelihood depends on the land involved,” minister for parliamentary affairs P.R. Dasmusi told newspersons after the meeting.
The benefits under the new policy shall be available to all affected persons and families whose land, property or livelihood are adversely affected by land acquisition or by involuntary displacement of a permanent nature due to any other reason such as natural calamities etc, he said, adding that the policy would be applicable to all these cases irrespective of the number of people involved.
Other benefits to be offered under the new policy include scholarships for education of the eligible persons from the affected families, preference to groups of cooperatives of the affected persons in the allotment to contracts and other economic opportunities in or around the project site, wage employment to the willing affected persons in the construction work in the project, housing benefits, including houses to the landless affected families in both rural and urban areas.
Provisions have also been made for financial support to the affected families for the construction of cattle sheds, shops and working sheds, transportation costs, temporary and transitional accommodation and comprehensive infrastructural facilities and amenities in the resettlement area, including education, healthcare, drinking water, roads, electricity, sanitation, religious activities, cattle grazing and other community resources, etc.
The benefits expressed in monetary terms have been linked to the Consumer Price Index, and the same shall also be revised suitably at appropriate intervals.
Special provision for the STs and SCs include preference in land-for-land for STs followed by SCs, a Tribal Development Plan, which will also include a programme for development for alternative fuel and non-timber forest produce resources.
For the effective monitoring of the progress of implementation of R&R plans, the new policy provides for a national monitoring committee, a national monitoring cell, mandatory information sharing by the states and UTs with the national monitoring cell and oversight committees in the ministries/departments concerned for each major project.
The Central Government will set up National Rehabilitation Commission, which will be duly empowered to exercise independent oversight over the rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected families.
To check speculative transactions, the policy provides that land acquired for a public purpose cannot be transferred to any other purpose but a public purpose, and that, too, only with the prior approval of the government.
If land acquired for a public purpose remains un-utilised for the purpose for five years from the date of taking over the possession, the same shall revert to the government concerned.
When the land acquired is transferred for a consideration, 80 per cent of any net unearned income so accruing to the transferor shall be shared with the persons from whom the lands were acquired, or their heirs, in proportion to the value of the lands acquired.