Land bill's retrospective clause applies only to old cases: Ramesh

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 19, 2013 12:59 hrs
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New Delhi: The recently passed land bill's retrospective clause for dealing with the troubled history of land acquisition in India does not apply to instances less than five years old, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said Thursday.

"The retrospective clause will apply to cases where land acquisition proceedings were initiated five years ago or earlier," Ramesh told an interactive meet here on the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012 organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

"There are old projects, some where proceedings for acquisition are 15 years old, where things are lingering because of some underlying problems which need to be resolved," Ramesh said.

The retrospective clause in the new land bill will apply in three situations -- if the award of land has not been announced under the old act; where the award has been announced but physical possession of the land has not been taken; and where a majority of farmers have not accepted compensation.

In all these cases, compensation will be as per the new act.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012 aims to replace a law enacted by the British in 1894.

The new act is retrospective only in relation to compensation, not in relation to rehabilitation and resettlement (R and R), nor procedure, Ramesh clarified.

The compensation has also been significantly increased under the new law. It suggests compensation for the owners of the acquired land to be four times the market value in case of rural areas and twice in case of urban areas.

A key feature of the bill is that the consent of 80 percent of land owners concerned is needed for acquiring land for private projects and of 70 percent landowners for public-private projects.

"Public purpose", as per the bill, includes mining, infrastructure, defence, manufacturing zones, roads, railways, and ports built by government and public sector enterprises.

"This central legislation establishes a minimum base line, for a law that is for land acquisition, not for land purchase. If industry wants to go and buy the land, they are perfectly free to buy the land," the minister said.

The rural development ministry expects to put out the draft land acquisition rules in two-to-three weeks for inviting public comments, while the final norms are expected in the next two-to-three months.

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