Parliament to see land acquisition bill today

The government expects to introduce its landmark land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement bill in the Lok Sabha today, a day before Parliament is prorogued till the winter session.

The union cabinet on Monday cleared the new land acquisition bill, which seeks to replace a legislation that is more than 100 years old; and which allows the government to peremptorily acquire land for 'public purposes. It will also be the first central legislation on resettlement and rehabilitation of families displaced from their land (See: Cabinet approves Land Acquisition Bill).

After it is introduced in Parliament, the bill would go a multi-party standing committee for examination and suggestions. Thus it will not become law till at least the next session of Parliament.

Apart from requiring the consent of at least 80 per cent of the affected landowners before acquisition, the new bill proposes compensation of four times the market value of the land acquired from owners, particularly that acquired by state governments in rural areas.

It also proposes that if a private company is seeking to acquire over 100 acres for a 'public purpose', the land will be acquired by the government rather than the company.

If the land acquired is not used for the stated purpose, it will not be returned to the original owner, but will go to the state land authority, the bill says. This particular clause seems to be a response to the disputed act passed by the West Bengal (or Paschimbanga) government, which is seeking to return land acquired in Singur for a Tata Motors plant to the original owners.