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Trinamool to oppose land bill cleared by GoM

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The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill passed by Union Group of Ministers (GoM) on Tuesday has many provisions that will be opposed by West Bengal’s ruling party Trinamool Congress once it is tabled in Parliament. This was revealed by former minister of state for urban development and senior Trinamool leader Saugata Roy on Wednesday.
“We made our stand very clear even before coming to power, that there should not be any role of the government in acquiring land for private parties. But the bill okayed by the GoM headed by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has laid down provisions for acquisition of one-third of the total required land for private parties. We oppose such a move,” Roy told The Indian Express over phone.
West Bengal has prepared a land policy of its own, which clearly mentions that the state government would, under no circumstances, acquire land for private parties.
The land policy, which was reflected in the West Bengal Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, also spoke of non-acquisition of double and multi-crop land for any projects. Also, land would not be acquired for Private Public Partnership (PPP) projects.
Although the West Bengal Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act has not been tabled so far in the Assembly, sources in the land and land department sources said the bill is now with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her consideration.
The draft bill mentions that the government will not acquire land for private parties or for PPP projects, said sources in the land and land reforms department headed by the chief minister. "The state government, however, will acquire land for infrastructure projects and projects involving emergency services such as hospitals," said an official.
The state government is also reportedly considering a proposal for including a clause to return land to the original owners without any legal hassles if the land lies unused for more than five years after acquisition. The state government wants this clause to be incorporated in the Singur Land Development and Rehabilitation Act.
The draft bill was circulated among some MLAs mistakenly but later withdrawn. It is not clear when it will be tabled. "Since land acquisition is a subject in the concurrent list of the Constitution, the state government waits for passage of the central act. After going through the central act, the state will table its own bill in the Assembly," a minister said.
It is premature to say what strategy the Trinamool Congress will adopt to oppose the central bill, Roy said. "We will bring amendments if the central bill approves acquisition of land by the government," Roy said adding that the party will watch the developments.
"Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said he will have a round of discussion with Pawar and only then the bill will be placed before the Cabinet. A lot of developments are expected to take place. We have not seen the draft bill which was approved yesterday. I will not comment further without reading the bill," Roy said.
Source: Financial Express

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