Land Bill cleared by Ministers’ panel

| Updated on: Oct 16, 2012

Mining, power cos may feel the pinch

Land acquisition could become a costlier affair for mining of coal and other minerals as well as for electricity companies, if the Cabinet approves the Land Acquisition Bill.

The Bill was cleared by a Group of Ministers (GoM) on Tuesday and will be presented to the Cabinet this month.

The panel has decided that the provisions of compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation for acquisition of land under 13 Acts, which are exempt from the new Bill, must be aligned with the requirements of the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill within two years.

The Acts under the exempt list include the Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act, 1957; the Railways Act, 1989; the Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, 1885; the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Electricity Act, 2003.

Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development, appears to have won the first battle with regard to the Bill, as it was finalised, with some minor changes, at the third and last meeting of the ministerial panel chaired by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Pawar said, “We have succeeded to bring an understanding (on all the issues).”

Ramesh added that there was a strong view that there can’t be two laws operating at the same time. Thus, it was decided that there would be a cut-off date after which all land acquisition will have to take place under the new Bill, moving away from the archaic Land Acquisition Act 1894.

While there has been no dilution in the protective measures taken in the interests of the tribal population, one more provision has been added.

It has been decided that over and above the 66 per cent consent required from land owners, in case of acquisition in scheduled areas, which comprise mostly of tribal areas, an approval would be required from gram sabhas and other local bodies.

“As far as possible, no acquisition should be made in scheduled areas,” Ramesh said, adding that where acquisition does take place it should be a demonstrable last resort.

Referring to the recent Jal Satyagraha, Ramesh said that in case of irrigation projects, the resettlement and rehabilitation of the displaced people must be completed six months before the land is submerged. He added that you cannot have a situation where water fills the land before people are rehabilitated.

The Minister added that a ‘poison clause’ will be introduced in the Bill, which would require the law to be revised after 20 to 25 years. He had earlier said that all laws need to be re-written after such a period.

> aesha.datta@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 12, 2018

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