M A I N   N E W S

Bill to amend Land Acquisition Act soon
Govt plans to bring it in monsoon session, says RLD chief Ajit Singh after meeting Prime Minister
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 10
The UPA Government plans to bring a Bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, in the coming monsoon session of Parliament, said a confident RLD chief Ajit Singh after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for an hour here today.

The Prime Ministers’ assurance came in the wake of a week-long agitation in Greater Noida, Agra, Aligarh and other parts of the western UP by farmers who are protesting against the acquisition of their land for the Yamuna Express Highway.

The agitation turned violent on Saturday when

clashes between the protesters and the police left four persons dead and many injured.

Talking to the Tribune, Ajit Singh said: “There is already a Land Acquisition Bill on hold. It was passed by the Lower House in the 14th Lok Sabha. But the Rajya Sabha did not pass it, as a result it got lapsed. The government now plans to reintroduce it.”

The RLD chief, however, said his party and many others disagree with several features of the government draft.

“Jayant Chaudhary (Ajit Singh’s son and Mathura MP) is also moving a Private Members’ Bill in the monsoon session that has been studied by Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. President Pratibha Patil has approved its introduction,” added Ajit Singh.

Last year, protesting UP farmers had gheraoed Delhi against land acquisition. “On October 26 (2010), Rahul Gandhi had intervened after which the Prime Minister had promised to bring in the Bill to amend the Land Acquisition Act, 1894,” Ajit Singh recalled.

“I reminded the PM of his promise,” he said.

The RLD chief also wants a commission of inquiry to be set up to look into the entire process of acquisition of land by the Mayawati regime.

The Relief and Rehabilitation Bill 2009 and the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha in February 2009 but got stuck in the Rajya Sabha when key UPA ally, Mamata Banerjee, opposed it.

But now with the West Bengal elections over, the government plans to discuss the proposed draft with Mamata and fast forward the process. Additionally, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been consulting the NAC even as a Group of Ministers (GoM) led by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is busy “comprehensively” studying the issue.

The government draft seeks to provide compensation to the farmers at the market rate in a 70:30 proportion. It implies that 70 per cent of the land should be directly bought at the market price by the private party promoting a project while the government will only acquire 30 per cent of the land. Mamata had sought revision of this formula and wanted it to be in a 90:10 proportion. The Bill also seeks to provide rehabilitation to displaced farmers in the form of employment to family members. However, the most important aspect of the Bill is that it seeks to ensure the return of the land to farmers in case the project does not come up within the specified period.

Ajit Singh’s proposal, meanwhile, has sought redefining of “public purpose to either fully exclude any acquisition for private parties or at least ensure that in such a situation the government should at best act as “a facilitator rather than a real estate agent.”

I met the Prime Minister regarding the Land Acquisition Bill and reminded him that he had made a promise in October last year itself regarding the passage of the Bill. — Ajit Singh, RLD chief





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