Manmohan to meet CMs soon to sort out land acquisition issues

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 23 2012, 06:56am hrs
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will soon convene a meeting of state chief ministers to sort out contentious issues related to the land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement Bill (LARR). Sources said one of the main issues in the meeting agenda would be the finalisation of view on whether the government should have any role in acquiring land for public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

The issue needs consensus because though the Bill has proposed that the government can acquire land for PPP projects, the parliamentary standing committee (PSC) wants no government role in such projects. It is of the view that only as a last resort, multi-cropped irrigated land be acquired by the government for PPP projects. And if this is done the acquired land should be replaced by land under agriculture cultivation. The PSC wants a clearer definition of public purposes than what has been provided in the Bill.

The PM would call a meeting of the chief ministers for giving final nod to the LARR Bill, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh told FE.

Ramesh has opposed the committees suggestion that the government should not intervene in cases of PPP projects. We need projects under PPP model for faster and more equitable economic growth and we need to discuss the issue with the states for arriving at a conclusion, he had said.

While the earlier version of the Bill talked about the compensation to the tune of six times the market value of land as suggested by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, the final Bill drafted by the rural development ministry, after getting inputs from all stakeholders, brought down the compensation amount to four times. The Bill was introduced in Parliament in September 2011.

The cost of land acquisition should not be prohibitive but support rapid expansion of infrastructure through setting up of industries, Ramesh had stated.

The proposed Bill seeks to replace the 117-year-old Land Acquisition Act 1894, and integrates both land acquisition and R&R package.

The PSC had said public purpose in the Bill should be limited to linear infrastructure and irrigation, including multi-purpose dams and social sector infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and drinking water or sanitation projects constructed at the states expense. All cases of land acquisition must entail obligations for adequate compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to all land losers and other affected persons, the panel had stated in report.

The PSC had suggested that a multi-member land pricing commission be constituted to finalise the cost of acquisition of land. It also recommended that land should be returned after five years from date of possession if it is not used for the purpose for which it was acquired.