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Sep 06, 2011 at 12:07am IST

Cabinet approves new Land Acquisition Bill

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Monday cleared the Land Acquisition Bill which will be tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. The Bill's draft makes consent of at least 80 per cent landowners mandatory if acquisition is for private projects.

Public purpose has been defined as land use for strategic purposes, infrastructure and industry. But the consent is not mandatory when land is acquired by the government for its own use.

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Urgency clause is to be invoked in the rarest of rare cases like national defence and emergency arising out of natural calamities. There are different land acquisition norms for rural and urban areas.

The states are free to have their own land acquisition laws.

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This is the first central law that governs resettlement and rehabilitation of those affected by land acquisition.

Multi-cropped agricultural land could be acquired as the last resort in those districts where more than 50 per cent of land is multi-cropped. The earlier position was that multi-cropped land cannot be acquired at all.

According to the Bill if a private company wishes to acquire over 100 acres of land for public purpose, all the land will be acquired by the government.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has laid the groundwork for the Bill and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and also circulated the draft to all the chief ministers and cabinet ministers.

Social activist Medha Patkar, however, said that the Bill has been approved in a hurried manner and questioned the Government's intension.

"The Government should not come up with this Bill to Parliament within two days of Cabinet clearance, whereas the Lokpal Bill took 40 years to come up," said Patkar.

Underlining the importance of the Bill, she said, "Farmers and everyone will be affected by this particular Act".