Land bill draft to be modified: Jairam Ramesh


Kolkata : The latest draft of the land acquisition bill will be modified as there was need for more clarity on some issues, union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said here Sunday.

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“This bill is better. But there are specific points we need to clarify,” Ramesh said after his parleys with Debabrata Bandopadhyay, a former bureaucrat considered West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s adviser on land related matters.

He heads a two-member expert panel formed by Banerjee to draft a land policy in the state.

Ramesh said there was not much difference between the union government and the Trinamool Congress on the draft.

The minister said he has explained to Bandopadhyay that the bill does not provide for government acquiring private land for private purposes.

“An issue that has been raised is clarity on acquisition by government for private company for private purposes. I have explained to Debuda that this bill provides for acquisition by government for private companies for public purposes, like say power plants or railway projects or port projects.

“This bill does not envisage government acquiring land for private company for private purposes,” he said.

He said another issue that was raised was about title deeds that had been distributed and the Forest Rights Act, 2006. “That is part of the bill,” he said.

Ramesh Saturday night held a 40-minute discussion with Banerjee to explain the National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011, on which the second largest ally of the Congress in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had expressed reservations.

After the deliberations, Ramesh had said Banerjee “appeared to be broadly in sympathy with the approach of the bill which has proposed minimum land acquisition”.

Banerjee said the new land bill draft prepared by the central government was much more positive than the previous one. The chief minister added that she would give her views in a few days days after thoroughly studying the document.

Earlier, in an interview to a Bengali news channel, Banerjee said her party will back the bill on the floor of parliament only if its suggestions were incorporated.

“Our state government has also made a new land policy and that says that we will not acquire land forcefully,” Banerjee said.

She said exceptions could be made for projects of defence, national security and railways, which are essentially public utility services.

“The previous land draft bill was opposed by me. The new bill says there will be no land acquisition for private sector. Only for public purpose they have kept 80-20 acquisition clause,” said Banerjee.

“If they take our suggestions, then only will we back the bill. Of the developed land, 10 percent should be returned. The compensation rate has to be more than the prevailing market rate along with a pension scheme for 10 years and a job,” Banerjee said in the interview.

“I am totally against acquisition of land for private purposes. Even for public purpose, we should not go for acquisition unless it involves essential services,” she added.