New Delhi: The Congress seems to be taking every word uttered by Rahul Gandhi very seriously. Less than a month after his famed 'padyatra' through the villages of western Uttar Pradesh where he promised that there will be a change in the 'Law of the Land', the government has on Friday released a draft of the land acquisition bill.
The National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) Bill 2011 seeks to strike a fine balance between the needs of the governments for developmental purposes and the needs of the farmers whose livelihoods are dependent on the land being acquired.
In the foreword to the Bill, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said that the government intends to enact a transparent and flexible set of rules and regulations and to ensure its enforcement.
"Under our Constitution, land is a State subject, but land acquisition is a Concurrent subject. So far, the basic law governing the land acquisition process has been the Land Acquisition Act, 1894," Ramesh said.
He added that the issue of who acquires land is less important than the process of land acquisition, compensation for land acquired and the R&R process, package and conditions.
Admitting that the basic law has become archaic, Ramesh said that the objective is to make the process of land acquisition easy, transparent and fair for both sides in each instance.
The draft bill will enjoy primacy over other specialised legislations that are currently in force. The provisions of the draft bill will be in addition to and not in derogation of the existing safeguards.
The draft bill does not preclude private companies buying land directly from farmers and others. What the draft bill proposes in such cases beyond a threshold is that a fair R&R package be offered. The draft bill also suggests that under no circumstances should multi-cropped, irrigated land be acquired.
The draft bill is being placed in public domain as part of a pre-legislative consultative process. Comments are invited preferably before August 31.