Parliament empowers Railways to acquire lands for special projects

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New Delhi, Mar 13 (UNI) Parliament today passed the Railways (Amendement) Bill, 2008, empowering the Railways to acquire lands for special rail projects needed for creation of basic infrastructure in the country even as Railways Minister Lalu Prasad promised to take the state governments into confidence.

The Rajya Sabha today passed the Bill by voice vote which had already been passed by the Lok Sabha two days ago.

Allaying the apprehensions of the Rajya Sabha members on the Bill, Mr Prasad said the Railways were making no attempts to bypass the authority of the States and he believed that there should be no politics in development.

However, some states were not extending support to the Railways for various projects intended to create infrastructure and cited the example of Railways' efforts to establish a coach factory in Uttar Pradesh. Despite his personal talks with the then Chief Minister and several senior Railway officials making trips to the state capital, the project had not been realised, he said without taking any names.

He said these were all non-controversial projects which did evoke protests by farmer communities like the ones witnessed in Kolkata and West Bengal. The Railways would certainly have to take help from the States like law and order and the land records were all the domains of the State. The land value would be given by the Railways.

There was a tendency to fail the projects by the states for political reasons by delaying land acquisition process. There was a need to empower the Railways for land acquisition on fast-track basis for special projects on the lines of the provisions given under National Highways Act 1956. There were also huge number of disputes relating to compensation amount for land acquisitions before the Courts and hence the Bill was providing expeditious mechanism of arbitration process provided for resolving the dispute relating to compensation. The Bill provides rehabilitation and resettlement.

The Bill will replace the Railways Amendment Ordinance passed on January 31 this year.

UNI MCN PK AS1515

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