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Cabinet nod for land acquisition, rehab Bill

New Delhi: The much-awaited Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill, which provides for enhanced compensation to land owners and a slew of other benefits, was today approved by the Union Cabinet.

The bill, which was fast-tracked in the backdrop of a number of agitations in parts of the country, will be introduced in Parliament on Wednesday, a senior minister said after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Land Acquisition, Relief and Rehabilitation Bill, 2011 is believed to have a proposal for compensation four times higher than market rate to the owners.

It also proposes government help for acquisition of 20 per cent of the land for a private project in case the firm acquires 80 per cent of the land needed for a project.

The bill proposals include a subsistence allowance of 3,000 per family per month for a year and an annuity of 2,000 per family per month for 20 years.

The bill also includes employment provisions.

The Bill was discussed threadbare at the Cabinet at a meeting that lasted over 90 minutes.

It is learnt that former Chief Ministers in the Union Cabinet including Veerappa Moily, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Virbhadra Singh had strong views on certain aspects of the Bill and favoured that the same may be ironed out in the Standing Committee.

With the aim of seeking support for the bill from Cabinet colleagues, Ramesh had met his senior Cabinet colleagues including Pranab Mukherjee, Moily, Ambika Soni, Sharad Pawar, A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Kishore Chandra Deo and Kapil Sibal.

The bill also proposes granting "livelihood compensation" for displaced persons who do not own the land but are dependent on its produce for livelihood.

It also states that the public purpose once stated cannot be changed.

The bill was cleared by the cabinet after it was decided that the states will be free to have their own laws on land acquisition.

The bill comes at a time when farmers across many states have been at warpath with the government over this contentious issue.

The Bill approved this evening retains certain aspects suggested by the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council like having a single Bill for land acquisition and rehabilitation and resettlement.

The NAC had recommended six times the registered value of the land as compensation. This included tripling the registered sale price of the land and adding 100 per cent solatium.

The bill comes at a time when farmers across many states have been at loggerheads with the government over this contentious issue.

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