New Delhi, Sept. 27: Consensus eluded a meeting of the group of ministers (GoM) on the land acquisition bill today amid divergent views on the applicability of the proposed law to mining and coal exploration and a retrospective clause for ongoing projects.
The panel will meet again in the first week of October. The revised Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill is expected to be reintroduced in the winter session.
The original bill had a retrospective clause for existing projects where compensation had not been paid. The revised bill removed the clause and said the law would apply only to new projects. But several ministers at today’s meeting asked for the clause to be brought back, a source said.
The original draft said the proposed law would not apply to acquisitions carried out under a group of 16 central laws, including those on coal. But a House panel had frowned on such exemptions.
The revised version before the GoM seeks to only cover land acquired under the SEZ Act, Works of Defence Act and the Cantonment Act, among the 16. As for the other 13, acquisition will be done under the respective acts but the compensation and rehabilitation benefits would be given in keeping with the land acquisition bill’s provisions.
This would mean the consent of two-thirds of the land-losers would be needed for SEZs as such projects are meant for private industry. Commerce minister Anand Sharma has opposed the inclusion of SEZs under the land bill’s ambit.
Some ministers today said the entire land acquisition law, including the two-thirds consent rule, should apply to mining. Since such blocks are mainly in tribal zones, this provision would give the residents greater say.