NEW DELHI (TIP): After Food Security Bill, the pathbreaking Land Acquisition Bill that aims to give a fair deal to farmers for their land for industrial use was passed by the Lok Sabha on August 29 giving a push to Sonia Gandhi’s another pet project ahead of General Elections. The key land legislation of the UPA championed by Rahul Gandhi was approved by an overwhelming majority after an acrimonious debate. The Bill, which seeks to provide just and fair compensation to farmers while also ensuring that no land can be aquired forcibly, will replace the archaic Act of 1894, “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. Both the Food Security Bill, that was passed on Monday, and the Land Acqusition Bill, will now have to be passed by the Rajya Sabha. The bill proposes compensation that is up to four times the market value in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas. It was passed with 216 votes in favour and 19 against. 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. “There will be no forceful acquisition of land under this law. This legislation will provide lawful right of the farmers over their land and no right of forceful acquisition to government,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said while winding up the day-long discussion on the Bill. Asserting that the new law will address “historical injustice”, the minister said this law is being enacted under the Concurrent list and the states can bring their own law on the subject without derogating from the central law. Sonia and Home Minister and Leader of the House Sushilkumar Shinde, apparently unwell, did not participate in the voting as they left when amendments were being moved. The National Advisory Council(NAC) headed by the Congress President had given a vigorous push for the land bill. India Inc has expressed fears that the land reforms could push up property purchase costs making industrial projects financially unviable while the Food Security Bill will have a deleterious effect on public finances. 381 amendments were moved to the bill, of which 166 were official ones. Of the Opposition amendments, some were withdrawn and others defeated during voting.