The Centre on Thursday approved amendments to the Land Acquisition Bill making mandatory the consent of 80 per cent of people whose land is taken for private projects.
The meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the proposals of the Rural Development Ministry for amendment of the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill, 2011.
The amendment also provides for assent by 70 per cent of land owners in case of acquisition by a public-private partnership project.
According to a clause, if the acquired land is left unutilised for more than five years, it will be returned. The Land Acquisition Act, 1894, has no provision for return of unutilised land.
The Bill, a pet project of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi, is likely to be introduced in Parliament with official amendments in this session itself.
Sources said that the Bill was finalised by the Ministry of Rural Development after incorporating the suggestion of Sonia Gandhi, who had asked the government to take consent from 80 per cent land owners for acquiring land for setting up industries and PPP projects.
The controversial Bill was earlier referred to the GoM, which had suggested that the consent clause be kept at 67 per cent for PPP projects and private projects. Minister of State for Rural Development Lalchand Kataria had on Wednesday told the Rajya Sabha that the government intends to introduce the official amendments to the Bill in the Lok Sabha.