The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 has come into force from today and the Land Acquisition Act 1894 stands repealed and cannot be invoked in any other acquisition proceedings from this day forth. Briefing the media here, the Minister for Rural Development Shri Jairam Ramesh said that if implemented properly, the new Act will help in curbing the maoist menace in States like Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. He said that under the old Act of 1894, the tribals in these states were not given adequate compensation even after large scale displacements. The Minister underlined that the 13 Central Acts under which land can also be acquired have to be amended within one year to bring them at par with the new Land Acquisition Act as far as compensation to the land losers are concerned.
The Minister said, to aide and facilitate the implementation of the new Act the Ministry of Rural Development is now taking the following steps:
· Rules are intended to bring clarity to certain key processes defined in the parent law. Work on a set of draft Rules to the new Act began almost immediately in the wake of the new law being passed by both houses on September 5th, 2013. A draft set of Rules had been prepared after a nationwide consultation process with stakeholders from across the spectrum and it was submitted to the Law Ministry for approval.
· These Rules, as finalized by the Law Ministry, have now been notified officially in the Gazette for the formal consultation with the public. While the Ministry has carried out a process of consultation prior to the preparation of these draft rules, the law requires a formal declaration to seek comments from the public for 45 days.
· These Rules will lay down processes for the conduct of Social Impact Assessment and will also provide details for obtaining the consent of affected families.
· However it must be pointed out that the new law can function and operate even without the Rules coming into force. Given that the law was drafted as a complete and self-containing statute, the absence of Rules is not a detriment to the law being invoked.
Other Highlights of the Ministry
Apart from the revolutionary Land Acquisition Act which will provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land can be acquired forcibly, the year also saw Rural Development Ministry coming out with phase II of the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to build and upgrade rural roads. While the existing PMGSY scheme will continue, under PMGSY phase II, the roads already built for rural connectivity will be upgraded to enhance village infrastructure and better rural connectivity. Another significant achievement was granting approval for setting up of an independent society for transforming livelihoods and lives of rural households with an emphasis on women in tribal areas.
The Rural Development Ministry's proposal to set up the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) with a corpus of Rs 500 crore in partnership between the government and private sector organisations was another highlight of the Ministry.
The Ministry also announced important changes to its flagship MGNREGA programme seeking to ensure permanent and durable asset creation in rural areas and introduction of penalty for delayed wage payments.
This Year, the Rural Development Ministry also launched a new skill development scheme called Roshni for rural youth from 24 severely affected left-wing extremism districts in the country. It aims at imparting skills and placement of 50,000 youth from these districts. The ministry selected six districts each from Jharkhand and Odisha, five from Chhattisgarh, two from Bihar and one each from Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra for the scheme. The programme will be implemented at a cost of Rs 100 crore over the next three years.
The year also saw strengthening of another skill development cum placement programme Himayat aimed at giving training and jobs to one lakh youth from poor families in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.