Land acquisition Bill to cover more sectors

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: May 16 2012, 07:55am hrs
The Parliament's standing committee on rural development has recommended a widening of the ambit of the Land Acquisition Bill, 2011, to include highways, nuclear plants, mines and special economic zones (SEZ).

Since much of the land acquisition for public purpose under the proposed law expected in mining, power and other infrastructure sectors, these exemptions needed to be removed, the committee felt.

According to sources, land acquisition for public-private partnerships and even acquisition by private parties for public purpose (publicly-used assets) will be brought under the purview of the Bill.

In earlier meetings, committee members had objected to the Bill primarily because of the exemptions sought to be accorded to virtually 90% of projects for which land could be or needed to be acquired. For them, there are separate laws dealing with land acquisition issues.

The committee also recommended that a ceiling for purchase of land could be determined by state legislatures where projects required large-scale acquisitions.

Land acquired, if not used for five years, should be returned to its original owner, the committee felt. Sources in the committee said in case of acquisition in scheduled areas, the consent of the gram sabha would be required.

The Bill in its current form allows exemptions detailed in sections 97, 98 and 99.

The district magistrate will form a committee to determine the compensation amount, and the committee will also have representation from local representatives. The report, finalised over four meetings, will be tabled in Parliament on Thursday, according to sources. However, the jury is still out on whether UPA ally Trinamool Congress would approve of this draft version.