New Delhi: Marking a second major political victory for the UPA government, the parliament yesterday passed the seminal land bill that aims to provide fair compensation to those whose land is taken away, brings transparency to the process of land acquisition to set up factories or buildings and assures generous compensation and rehabilitation of those affected by land takeover.
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 bill was passed by Lok Sabha on August 29 and the Rajya Sabha on September 4 but was referred to the lower house again to approve the three new amendments passed by the upper house on Wednesday.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh moved the three new amendments, related to exemptions for irrigation projects, which were passed by the lower house without any discussion. These amendments were incorporated by the government at the behest of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The bill will now go to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent before it becomes a law.
In both the houses most parties supported the bill but gave their suggestions to make it more farmer-friendly after over seven hours of debate. The passage of this bill comes close on the heels of the food bill that enshrines food rights and promises access to subsidised food to almost 800 millions Indians.
Both these legislations have been dubbed “populist” by economists but the Congress, especially its leader, Sonia Gandhi, have made the twin bills their showpiece instruments to improve the lives of India’s poor and hope to leverage on them to return to power in the general elections slated for next year.
Industry is unhappy with the bill as it makes acquisition of land to set up industries infinitely more difficult as large tracts of land have fragmented ownership but the ruling Congress - as well as other parties - want to show that their heart is with farmers and tribals as no party want to be seen as anti-poor ahead of a general election.