State Govt Takes One Step Forward to Ease Land Takeover Ordeals

Published: 05th November 2014 06:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th November 2014 06:10 AM   |  A+A-

PALAKKAD: Looks like the land aquisition imbroglios in the state, haunted by road-widening ordeals, are sure to end on a happy note.

For, the three-member expert committee constituted to frame relevant rules in connection with a new Central Act, that promises transparency in land take over, has submitted the proposals to the Revenue Department after being vetted by the Law Department.

The draft rules in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, would subsequently be published for the public to give their feedback.

Revenue Minister Adoor Prakash said there was one clause which was missing in the submitted rules which was noticed on scrutiny and therefore the report containing the draft rules will be sent back to the Law Department to rectify the anomaly.

It will be subsequently forwarded to the Cabinet for approval and later to the Assembly. Once the Assembly gives its nod to the Act will be enforced in the state.

The Minister said that after the public hearing, the government intends to implement it as soon as possible.

The new Act will be applicable to all land acquisitions, including widening of national highways. The new Act, meant for ensuring transparency to land acquisition process, provides for adequate compensation and rehabilitation of the affected.

The state governments, under the new Act, will have to set up at least six bodies, including a state-level Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority, to hear disputes arising out of projects where land acquisition has been initiated by the state or agencies.

The new Act which came into effect since January 1 this year also calls on the state government to take steps to create and establish the State Social Impact Assessment Unit, the office of the Commissioner Rehabilitation and Resettlement and the state-level monitoring committee.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has already announced that the recommendations and rules framed by the expert committee will be scrutinised and given final shape by a state-level monitoring committee to be headed by the Chief Secretary.

Currently private land holdings were acquired under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. In many other cases like the setting up of the Industrial Development Zone, special permission was being sought from the Cabinet to enable negotiated purchase of land, said Kinfra general manager (projects) K Sudhakaran.  Under the new legislation, compensation for the land owners will be four times the market value in rural areas and twice in urban areas. A solatium of 100 per cent (which currently exists at 30 per cent) will be paid above the market value calculated. It also stipulates that the land cannot be vacated until the entire compensation is awarded to the affected parties.

Meanwhile, due to opposition from infrastructure ministries who have stated that the new Land Acquisition Act would stall all development work, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is reported to be contemplating on bringing changes to the Act in consultation with all stakeholders.

The key issues highlighted by the departments like roads, oil, power, shipping and mining related to the consent clause, those relating to compensation and rehabilitation and the clause to return the unutilised land to original owners.

(to be concluded)

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