With the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 replacing the vintage Land Acquisition Act, 1894 from Wednesday, as many as 13 existing central pieces of legislation will have to be amended within the year to bring their R & R and compensation provisions at par with those of the new regime on buying land across the country.
Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday wrote to the ministers concerned once again, reminding them about the need to amend these laws as mandated by Section 105 (3) of the new law.
Briefing mediapersons here to announce the roll-out of the new law, he said the clock had started ticking for 10 Ministries of which three — Railways, Power and Home — have to amend two laws each accordingly. He had first written to all these ministries in early October soon after Parliament passed the law.
The Minister flagged the Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act, 1957, the National Highways Act, 1956, and the Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, 1885 in particular at his press conference. The coal and mining-related laws have assumed significance in view of the ongoing agitations in Jharkhand and Odisha. Proper implementation of the new land acquisition law in the Maoist areas, he opined, could break the rebels’ stranglehold.
The other laws that have to be amended are: the Atomic Energy Act, 1962; the Indian Tramways Act, 1886; the Railways Act, 1989; the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958; the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, 1962; the Damodar Valley Corporation Act, 1948; the Electricity Act, 2003; Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952; the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948 and the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978.
Meanwhile, the Rural Development Ministry also notified the Rules to the new Act. These Rules, Mr. Ramesh said, were still open for change as the law mandates that 45 days be provided for factoring in comments from the public. However, since all key stakeholders were consulted before drawing up the Rules, he did not foresee any hitch in this regard and was hopeful of placing them before Parliament by mid-February.
Dispelling India Inc’s apprehension that the new regime would delay land acquisition, Mr. Ramesh said R & R had become a fundamental feature of land acquisition and there would be no delays if the law was implemented properly in letter and spirit.
As for the demand of the Left parties that all the other 13 laws pertaining to land acquisition be brought under one umbrella legislation, he conceded that it would not only have been politically suicidal but even the Cabinet would not have cleared it.