A file picture of Union minister Jairam Ramesh and chief minister Hemant Soren in Ranchi on July 30
Ranchi, Sept. 12: Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and Congress state in-charge B.K. Hariprasad will hold a meeting with chief minister Hemant Soren tomorrow to discuss implementation of the new land acquisition law, with a major thrust on unused plots that were acquired by different public sector undertakings (PSUs) decades ago.
Coal India chairman S. Narsing Rao, senior officials of NTPC and other PSUs will be present during the deliberations.
“Coal India and other PSUs seem to have a bad habit of acquiring thousands of acres ahead of time and then delay their projects for decades. This habit has to change. A high-level meeting with the chief minister has been convened tomorrow to discuss all these issues,” said Ramesh interacting with newsmen in the state capital today.
Ramesh, who is the chairman of Congress monitoring committee that formulated the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, said thousands of acres acquired by different PSUs were lying unutilised in Ramgarh, Hazaribagh, Dhanbad, for more than two decades.
The new act, unlike the old Land Acquisition Act of 1894, dwells at length on such situation where acquired plots are lying idle for several years.
The Union minister, who termed the new land act favourable for tribals and hence Jharkhand, said Hemant had raised concerns over this issue and it would be discussed during the meeting tomorrow.
“The new law has a clause of retrospective effect in three situations. If a plot was acquired more than five years ago and compensation has not been announced or the possession of the plot has not been taken or majority of villagers have not accepted the compensation, the provisions of the new act can be enforced, instead of the old act,” said Ramesh.
The meeting would discus if the provisions of the new law would be imposed on unused plots acquired by PSUs in the state.
At present, land acquisition for coal companies is carried out under the Coal Bearing Area Act. Interestingly, this law does not speak about the coal companies’ responsibility towards resettlement and rehabilitation of land donors. But, the new act makes the PSUs directly responsible for rehabilitation and resettlement of land donors.
“The new act will be notified in three months and soon, PSUs and coal companies will have to acquire land under the new act,” Ramesh said.