GoM clears Land Acquisition Bill

Makes compulsory approval of the gram sabhas for acquiring land in tribal areas

By Swati Singh Sambyal
Published: Friday 19 October 2012

A ministerial panel chaired by Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has cleared the controversial Land Acquisition Bill. The draft report will now be sent to the Cabinet for approval.

“We succeeded in bringing some understanding on issues on which there were different views,” said Pawar after the meeting on October 16.

Before that in an interview, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said that the bill is almost ready and will be presented before the Cabinet after one more sitting of the 14-member Group of Ministers (GoM).

Chidambaram and deputy chairperson of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia could not attend the last meeting of the GoM held on October 8, which saw differences on certain clauses including that on retrospective acquisitions—ongoing land acquisitions where award had not been made or possession not taken—and consent required from land owners.

During the first meeting In September, the same set of issues had divided the members of the GoM. In its last meeting, members had also expressed differences over government’s role in acquiring land for private parties.

Union commerce minister Anand Sharma and petroleum minister S Jaipal Reddy were learnt to have supported the idea of government helping private players during land acquisition. According to sources, defence minister A K Antony had recommended that the government should step in to help PPP projects only when it becomes absolutely necessary and should stay away from helping private players in acquiring lands. The meeting had also witnessed some ministers demanding retention of the original clause of seeking consent of 80 per cent of land owners for acquiring land.

The 80 per cent consent clause was earlier changed to the one seeking the consent of two-third (66 per cent) of the land owners for making such acquisitions.  The final draft has favoured consent of two-third of the land owners.

In addition, it has made it compulsory for gram sabhas to approve acquiring land in tribal areas. GoM has also agreed to allow possession of acquired land even before the completion of rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected families, but only after having provided monetary compensation. However, in case of irrigation projects, the rehabilitation and resettlement provisions must be fulfilled at least six months before submergence takes place.



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