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Sep 04, 2013 at 11:12pm IST

Rajya Sabha passes Land Acquisition Bill

New Delhi: The Land Acquisition Bill, which seeks to provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land can be aquired forcibly, was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. The legislation, just like the Food Security Bill, is being viewed as a mega vote-getter in forthcoming elections.

The new law will apply to all Special Economic Zones to be set up from now onwards, the government said while rejecting apprehensions over it, saying states were free to improve upon it by even raising the requirement of consent from 80 per cent to 100 per cent.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012, which got the nod of Lok Sabha last week, was passed by the Upper House by 131-10 votes with four new official amendments, proposed by opposition parties, including BJP.

Rajya Sabha passes Land Acquisition Bill

The bill stipulates mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent for acquiring land for Public Private Partnership projects.

The bill will go back to Lok Sabha for approval of the new amendments, which include dilution of retrospective clause with regard to acquisition of land for irrigation projects. The bill, which will replace over a century-old law, stipulates mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent for acquiring land for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects and 80 per cent for acquiring land for private companies. It proposes compensation upto four times the market value in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.

Replying to a six-hour debate, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh sought to address the concerns over the "urgency

clause" in the bill, saying it is for use only in case of natural calamities and national security and cannot be invoked

in case of land acquisition for private parties.

Compensation in this case will be higher, he said. Ramesh the government would not like multi-crop land to be acquired to the extent possible but it has been left to the states to decide the ceiling in this regard. Responding to a host of issues raised by members and concerns expressed, he promised to accommodate the maximum possible the suggestions in the rules to be notified for the new law.

At the same time, he said the new law may be amended after three-four years if the next government wishes. "I don't think there is any room for amending this law," he said.

(with additional inputs from PTI)