Govt to study suggestions on land acquisition policy

“We will certainly examine whatever suggestions that have been made by the NAC," Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told reporters when asked about the NAC recommendation on integration of the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill and the Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill into one law.

“The policy that will be drafted will be in the interest of the farmers. We want the farmer to get a good market price for his land and also ensure his proper rehabilitation,” he said.
A NAC working group on Land Acquisition and Resettlement and Rehabilitation has recommended in a discussion paper that the existing Land Acquisition Act of 1894 be repealed.” ...the two Bills, namely Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill 2009 and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, 2009 should be consolidated under the possible title National Development, Acquisition, Displacement and Rehabilitation Act," it said.
The new law must define and lay down procedures to establish public purpose and the need to acquire and displace people in public interest, secure land rights and livelihood of the natural resource-based communities and ensure protection of those directly or indirectly affected by such projects, it said.

"Both the Bills are intrinsically inter-related, as processes of acquisition are organically linked to those of resettlement and rehabilitation; and a comprehensive Act will remove some of the contradictions and also not cause confusion in implementation," the discussion paper argued. It favoured project affected persons compulsorily being compensated with agricultural land as an alternative to the land acquired.
“In all irrigation projects, and for STs and SCs in all other projects, agricultural land should be given compulsorily as a legal right, without any exceptions,” it said. “NAC-II reiterates that mandatory provisions for land for land are non-negotiable, and central and critical for a just and humane rehabilitation law," it said.

The NAC is expected to deliberate on the discussion paper at its next meeting on May 25 as it is keen to see the Bill introduced in the monsoon session of Parliament.
“We will take something from every proposal, which is coming to us," Deshmukh said.  “I can assure you the deadline that this bill will be presented before the coming Parliament. That deadline is fixed," he said.

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