The new land acquisition law, enacted by parliament last year, which aims to provide fair compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to farmers whose land is acquired came into force from Wednesday.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, replaces the earlier law which dates back to 1894.
“It is a historic law. The earlier law was colonial and undemocratic,” said Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.
“It (the old law) gave all powers to the government and ignored the farmers whose land was being acquired,” he said at a press conference here.
The new law proposes that farmers and landowners be paid up to four times the market value for land acquired in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.
Another key feature of the act is that the consent of 80 per cent of land owners is needed for acquiring land for private projects and of 70 per cent landowners for public-private projects.
Ramesh said for the proper implementation of the law, 13 other laws need to be amended within one year. These include laws pertaining to acquisition of land for coal mines and national highways.
Explaining the retrospective provision in the new land act, he said the clause would be applicable only in circumstances where the acquisition has begun but compensation amount has not been announced.
The retrospective clause would also be applicable in cases where land acquisition was begun under the old law but five years have passed and compensation amount has not been announced or in cases where a majority of farmers have not been paid the compensation money.
“This new law will benefit farmers, the landless and tribals,” the minister said, adding henceforth land for industrialization and urbanisation would be bought and not acquired by the government.
He added that if the new law is implemented sincerely in Maoist areas, the hold of the rebels on the people will decrease.
Ramesh said he would write letters to state governments explaining the provisions of the act.
The landmark act was passed by parliament in its monsoon session last year.