Thursday, October 18, 2012

Government sets up task force to work on land reform issues

18 Oct, 2012, 09.19AM IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: A week after agreeing to take forward the unfinished agenda on land reform, the government on Wednesday set up a task force headed by the rural development minister Jairam Ramesh and Tribal Affairs minister V Kishore Chandra Deo.

The constitution of the 15-member task force on land reforms was one of the decisions of the Agra agreement.

Last week, Ramesh reached an agreement land reforms leader PV Rajagopal in Agra to put in place a time-bound effort to formulating a national policy on land reform. A time frame of six months had been agreed upon. The 10 point Agra agreement brought to a halt the 350 kilometres march from Gwalior to Delhi by 60,000 poor landless people. Rajagopal, who is a member of national land reforms council and founder of Ekta parishad had made it clear that in the absence of tangible efforts by the central governments over the six months, the landless people would resume their march or jan satyagraha to Delhi.

With the clock ticking, Ramesh has put together an action plan with time lines and point persons for each component of the agreement.

Planning Commission member Mihir Shah and Vijayanand of the department of land resources have been tasked with working on the draft National Land Reforms Policy and Strategy. A time frame of 90 days has been put down for this effort. In the agreement, the government said that it will initiate a dialogue with states, since land is a state subject. The agreement stated that the government would prepare a draft land reforms policy for public debate and discussion in the next 4-6 months, after which the policy will be finalised.

Another key component of the agreement was the formulation of draft central legislations on provision of agricultural Land and a separate legislation on homestead land. This has been a central demand by Rajagopal and Ekta Parishad. K Raju, secretary to the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council is the pointsperson for this effort, a time frame of 90 days has been fixed.

Other components of the action plan include preparing a draft redesigned Indira Awas Yojna, which will provide a revised unit costs and provision for homestead as part of shelter or independent of shelter. A time frame of 45 days has been set. Over the next 60 days, the rural development ministry will work with the law ministry to draft a centrally sponsored scheme of Fast Track Land Tribunals. The Ekta Parishad and the NAC will work on preparing draft advisories to the States on land related issues. These advisories will be discussed at the first meeting of the task force.

The 15 member taskforce includes Planning Commission member Mihir Shah, P V Rajagopal, Trinamool Congress MP D bandopadhaya, BN Yugandhar, National Advisory Council member Aruna Roy, Praveen Jha, economist Bina Agarwal, legal expert Videh Upadhyay, national Advisory Council secretary K Raju, and four secretaries of the Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Law, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Ministry of Panchayati Raj.

Task force set up to look into land redistribution
Prasad Nichenametla, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 18, 2012

A day after a group of ministers finalised the contentious land acquisition bill, the government has tasked itself with a much-litigious job unfinished for decades - land reform and redistribution of land among the landless. A task force chaired by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh
and co-chaired by tribal affairs minister KC Deo was constituted on Wednesday to work on the issues.

The creation of the task force was one of the decisions arrived at in an agreement signed last week between the government and Jan Satyagrah activists, who have been protesting for a National Land Reforms Policy.

Five years ago, UPA-I had promised a land reforms council headed by PM Manmohan Singh. The council, however, never met since it was constituted in January 2008.

Now, the 11-member task force will come up with a draft land reforms policy in six months. A final policy accompanied by a strategy will set terms for ceiling on surplus land and redistribution of surplus and government land among the landless poor.

Ramesh said the first meeting will be held on November 16. "We will get going on our task now," he said.

"The earlier council, with PM as head and a dozen CMs as members, proved an impractical proposition. We are hopeful the task force will address our aspirations, failing which we can re-launch the agitation from Agra where we stopped on assurance of the government," PV Rajagopal, leader of the agitation told HT.

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