New Land Act to Be Implemented by 2014: Ramesh

The new Land Acquisition Act would be implemented either from January 1 or April 1, next year followed by the implementation of the National Food Security Act to fulfil people's aspiration, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today said.

Ramesh said that the government was now formulating rules to implement the Land Acquisition Act which would be followed by official notification.

After that the government would take up full-fledged implementation of the National Food Security Act, Ramesh told a press meet at the WBPCC Headquarters here.

Despite opposition by the Trinamool Congress, both the Bills were passed in the two Houses of Parliament and received the Presidential assent, he said.

Describing as 'unfortunate', the opposition to these Bills by the Trinamool Congress, which was earlier a major ally of the UPA government, Ramesh said that he discussed at least two times with the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the new Land Acquisition Bill, besides rounds of discussion with her party leaders.

"We incorporated at least three suggestions by the TMC chief in the new Land Acquisition Bill," Ramesh said.

The suggestions related to if the acquired land was not used within five years it would go back to the land owner or land bank, share-croppers or bargadars would also get compensation and multi-crop land could be acquired only when there is no other option.

Ramesh said that the Singur and Nandigram issues were an eye-opener for the government and played the catalyst for bringing in the new Land Acquisition Act which was named as "The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013."

"The Singur issue made Mamata Banerjee and Mamata Banerjee never made Singur," Ramesh quipped.

"The public posture of the Trinamool Congress party is different from private views of many of their leaders, as a number of leaders extended their support to the Bill personally despite the party's opposition to it," Ramesh said and then himself guessed "may be the members followed party guideline."

Ramesh also said that the new Land Acquisition Act would protect the farmers and help eliminate Maoist menace from the affected areas, besides plugging all loopholes in the previous Act.

However, the state governments have every right to enact their own Land Acquisition Act, but they can't subtract from the Central Act or alter the provisions mentioned there, the Union Minister said adding in case of conflict the central act would prevail.

Speaking about the National Food Security Act, Ramesh said that the Mamata Banerjee government opposed it too, even as West Bengal has been kept in the fourth position, after Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Maharashtra, as per food subsidy to the state under this new law.

"Under this new law, the total food subsidy to West Bengal will increase to Rs 7,700 crore from Rs 5,900 crore annually," Ramesh said.

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