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Bihar's new land policy on anvil

The Government of Bihar has drafted a comprehensive land policy to streamline the land and revenue administration in the state

Patna: Taking a cue from the Singur and Nandigram incidents in the Left-led state of West Bengal, the Bihar government has drafted a comprehensive land policy to streamline the land and revenue administration in the state.

"The Bihar Land Policy, 2008 is ready awaiting cabinet's nod. After getting the approval of the cabinet; it will come into force. It will have a land owner-friendly look," a government official involved in drafting of the policy said.

The proposed policy has dealt in depth over land acquisition, re-settlement and rehabilitation, ceiling and land management aspects and has abolished many rules and regulations framed in the existing policy made by British.  

Lands are acquired under the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (Act 1 of 1894), which is a Central Act. As this Act has been enacted by the erstwhile British rulers, many provisions of it are not land-owners friendly and are not congruent with the changing socio-economic and political milieu.

Legal experts have also opined that this law is biased against the land owners and farmers. In fact, this biasness is the crux of all such problems which are being experienced in many areas including Singur and Nandigram, official said.

This proposed policy seeks to provide solution to all such problems by framing Ground Rules for acquisition. Instead of awarding monetary compensation, the land losers would be rehabilitated by re-settling lands in freely surrendered urban and semi-urban areas.

The amounts of compensation and 'solacium' money have already been enhanced in The Bihar Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Re-settlement Policy, 2007.

"This Policy seeks to 'institutionalise' it and make it further investment and rehabilitation friendly," official pointed out.

Besides, section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 has also been amended to give the District Collectors more discretionary powers in matters of awarding compensations. Idea is to give human face to whole gamut of land acquisition and land management process.

The Ground Rules are to be framed for re-settlement and rehabilitation to the affected persons. The policy also seeks to provide livelihood to the land losers and agricultural labours by way of creating jobs in the vicinity of the projects.

The policy seeks to constitute a Grievance Redressal Mechanism so that the grievances are disposed off more quickly and amicably. It also seeks to make Social Impact Assessment of the entire acquisition process and take suitable steps accordingly.

People will continue to enjoy some of the rights like fishing and grazing even after their land is acquired.

This policy also seeks to make some exemptions in land ceiling laws in districts like Kisanganj, which is becoming an attractive destination for tea cultivators.

But surprisingly, it does not say anything about the other districts. The Land Ceiling Act, 1961 has hopelessly failed in this state and there are numerous instances where people are fighting legal battles for the land given to them under this Act in 1970s itself.

The policy seeks to introduce modern technology in land management. It also aims at making a data base of the land records and seeks to update it by way of application of ICT.

Great result oriented Efforts by the most dynamic CM of Bihar till date. He is trying to make the system more and more transparent and babus independent. But still babus are making the things difficult and that needs care and proper vigilance. Land records computerization tender were asked 3-4 months back and still the same has not been decided. When a tender process takes more than a year to complete then it can be assumed that how many years it will take to implement.

It is a good effort of govt to lessen the problem of land disputes and land acquisition. Bihar is desperately trying to bring investment but it is not coming. I dont understand why? One should change its mindset towards Bihar.

Bihar has earned reputation of enacting laws and frame rules in large numbers. But when it comes to implementation, the track record is dismal, thanks to the IAS babus. I am apprehensive whether this policy would be implemented or it will meet the same fate as many others.

It is an excellent effort by Nitish Kr in the field to bring about the change in land records. Land records in Bihar is in shambles and no survey operation is done for the last five decades. If land records are updated, it can change the face of Bihar.

It is a good attempt of govt of Bihar. In fact the amount of compensation being paid in Bihar for land acquisition is highest in any part of the country therefore Bihar is not witnessing any problem in land acquisition, thanks to this policy.

All efforts so far has failed to attract investment in the state. Thanks to the uncongenial and unfriendly attitude of people and partisan attitude of politicians in the state. Nothing has changed here and Nitish is in euphoria that things has changed. What has changed is the banner and parities flag.

Whether this policy will be able to attract investment in this poverty stricken state? Land records are in shambles and the govt should update it first. The top level babus should change their mind set for a new Bihar.

Bihar govt should immediately start survey operation, otherwise the land record in Bihar will peril forever. The land disputes are taking place due to this problem. IAS people are simply indifferent towards it.

The land policy has failed to touch core issues like land reforms, bataidari and distribution of surplus land. the IAS lobby is doing only lip service to the state. the survey operation is in shambles and no IAS wants to go in field as S.O. or Charge officer. Only rejected officers are sent here. What govt is doing on this front?

In the given socio-economic texture of rural Bihar is centered around the holding the ownership or tenancy of the land and losing the land makes a great impact on rural people, more than life itself. Thus, there is urgent need to compensate the land in a way that the loser gets a sustainable solution to the livelihood. The land is also source of power at the grassroots level, hence it matters much for any body. It is welcome step of the Bihar government to provide owner friendly land policy. Sarita Yadav's article underlines the issues in a nice way.

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