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.