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Govt to include NACs recommendations in Land Acquisition bill

New Delhi: Government on Monday said the Land Acquisition Amendment Bill will include the recommendations made by Sonia Gandhi-led NAC, and once passed, the legislation will ensure that there are "no more Singurs" in the country.

"The recommendations of the NAC will be included in the Land Acquisition bill…there will be no more Singurs. It will support the aspirations of the people," Law Minister M Veerappa Moily told reporters here.

The Law Ministry will vet the bill, which is under consideration of the Rural Development Ministry, at a later stage before it is put up before the union cabinet.

The National Advisory Council (NAC) has prescribed a seven-point test for a having a humane legislation on land acquisition and rehabilitation.

In a recent letter to the government, the NAC suggested a check list of seven parameters which includes provisions for a rehabilitation package that is sensitive to the aspirations of the affected people.

The NAC`s checklist includes: Does it discourage forced displacement? Does it minimise adverse impacts on people, habitats, environment and biodiversity? Does it minimise adverse impacts on food security by actively discouraging acquisition of agricultural land, and promoting local economies? Does it comprehensively define project affected persons/families?

It also includes: Does it provide for a just compensation and rehabilitation package, sensitive to the aspirations, culture, community, natural resource base and skill base of the affected people? Does it ensure humane, participatory, informed, consultative and transparent process? Does it provide for effective implementation?

"The test for any such legislation should be on these parameters," said the letter sent by the NAC to the government.

The NAC also wants the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act to make violation of the law by public officials a punishable offence.

"Penal provisions for violations (by public officials), in the form of fines imposed on public officials who fail based on their job charts issued by the state government, must be included in the statute," the NAC said.

The Council has suggested that the land acquired for project that remains unused should be returned to the displaced families with a nominal cost recovery.

The recommendation also includes a provision for the government to notify the amenities to be provided at resettlement sites.

"The basic amenities with minimum standards shall be mandatorily provided at the new site.

These include roads, safe drinking water, hygiene, educational facilities, community hall, and basic irrigation facilities at project cost," the NAC said in its communication to the government.

It also recommended setting up of a National Commission for Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (NLCRR) with powers to supervise and exercise oversight over land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation.

"The NCLRR shall have a chairperson, and four members of relevant skills and experience, and independence, at least two of whom should be women, and at least one of them SC and one ST," the letter said.

It suggested that the process of appointments to NCLRR should be similar to the Central Information Commission under the Right to Information Act.

The NCLRR should be tasked with promoting public accountability and ensuring compliance with legally established policies, procedures and practices.

The Commission should also mediate and respond to complaints and disputes in the capacity of an ombudsman and also fix responsibility on public officials for lapses and awarding fines.

The NCLRR should also provide strategic advice to the government, the NAC said.

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