Upper House passes Land Acquisition Bill; Developers welcome the move

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The much-talked about Land Acquisition Bill, which seeks to provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land can be acquired by any forced manner, was passed by the Lok Sabha. The bill was passed with 216 votes in favour and 19 against – an overwhelming majority in the House.

“The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012″ stipulates mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent for acquiring land for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects and 80 per cent for acquiring land for private companies.

The bill, which will replace over a century-old law, proposes compensation that is up to four times the market value in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.

Left parties, AIADMK and BJD members staged a walkout. Trinamool Congress voted against the bill while main Opposition BJP as also SP and BSP supported the legislation.

The bill proposes payment of compensation that is up to four times the market value in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh moved the bill, which aims at making affected persons partners in development, leading to an improvement in their post-acquisition social and economic status.

Ramesh said the bill, renamed as “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012″, conveys the government’s determination to address “widespread and historical injustices”.

Ramesh had earlier said that the proposed legislation shows government’s determination to address “widespread and historical injustices”. This has been done by establishing strong legal prerequisites that need to be discharged first while acquiring land.

However, developers are happy about the development and welcomed the move in this regard. “The bill is definitely the need of the hour given the controversies with respect to forcible land acquisition in the last few years. We welcome government’s thinking and hope that with the passage of bill, at last housing, private industry and public projects will be able to move ahead with fresh supply of acquired land which is essential for large scale projects,” said Anil Kumar Sharma, president, CREDAI-NCR.

Most of the large-sized SEZs that were proposed to position our country the leader in manufacturing sector and create jobs for our youth have either be shelved or hanging nowhere resulting in sheer frustration among investors and industry.

“As evident by recent growth figures, the GDP of country has plunged to lowest in last decade and employment scenario has worsened. On one end, we aspire to compete with China or any other Asian country on manufacturing front, on the other, land acquisition issues haven’t let the projects taken off,” Sharma said.

But Sharma is disappointed with the finer details in the bill. “In current form, the bill makes the process of land acquisition time consuming with an intentional or unintentional incentive for the farmers to delay the process as the longer the delay the higher the compensation (in the form of market rate prevalent at the time of final acquisition),” he said.

Ajay Aggarwal, managing director, Microtek Infrastructure Pvt Ltd said, “The bill, in current form, does not do justice to government’s responsibility to carry all the stake holders together. This draft may be conveying the impression of welfare of farmers or land-owners at the surface, it is going to harm their prospects in future as industry and real estate sector will avoid investing in areas which has history of land acquisition disputes.”

“The best way for government will be to address concerns of industry as well, as it is highly tilted in favor of land-owners. The state being sole arbiter of property in country, it cannot avoid its responsibility”, Aggarwal added.