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Ramesh in reform spirit, agrees to dilute land bill

In a bid to woo the ministries that had vehemently opposed the land bill and keeping pace with the current reforms mindset in the government, the rural development minister Jairam Ramesh has agreed to dilute key points of the land bill that his ministry had so vehemently advocated so far. Ramesh has written to the group of ministers (GoM) looking into the bill, explaining how the bill can protect investors' interests.

In the letter, Ramesh has said that the consent for acquiring land for projects be required from two-third, or 67 per cent, of land owners only, as opposed to the 80 per cent cut-off of all project-affected families, including both land owners and livelihood losers, which the present bill contains.

If Ramesh's climbdown in accommodated in the new bill, the consent of people who lose livelihood will not be required. However, they will entitled to claim compensation and rehabilitation. The other contentious issue of bill having applicability retrospectively has also been addressed by Ramesh. Now, he wants the bill to be used only prospectively.

The other point that was raised by the ministers in the cabinet meeting was the that possession of land could be taken only after monetary component and infrastructural amenities have been provided. Ramesh has agreed to waive off the infrastructural amenities part.  

These changes assume significance in the wake of the government pushing for reforms to allow growth in the economy and appease investors. In the cabinet meeting which had sent the land bill to the GoM, the urban development ministry and the commerce ministry had argued that the bill needed to be made more investor friendly.
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