Land Bill priority for Ramesh; meetings stretch past midnight

Jairam Ramesh
New Delhi, Jul 13: It was business as usual for Jairam Ramesh in his new Rural Development Ministry where he held extensive meetings with officials on his first day that stretched past midnight.

Ramesh, who had a controversial stint as Environment Minister, assumed charge of the new ministry immediately after taking oath as Cabinet Minister at the Rashtrapati Bhawan last evening and flagged the land acquisition bill as his priority.

He held discussions with Ministers of State and senior officials on various issues and met two members of the National Advisory Council (NAC) which had recently made recommendations on the Land Acquisition Bill.

"We will soon put out a draft Bill for public debate by middle of next week. That was my approach in the Environment Ministry and it will be the same in Rural Development ministry," he said.

Ramesh said besides compensation to land owners, he felt that the issue of giving benefits to those whose livelihood depends on the land to be acquired also need to be addressed.

"It is not just compensation to land owners but more important issue is to compensate those whose livelihood depends on the land being acquired. This is the most important matter. Compensation is the second important issue," he said.

Ramesh said he held extensive meetings in the ministry till 1:00 A.M. and followed it up with more discussions this morning.

"The purpose for which the land is being acquired -- whether it is for critical infrastructure or golf courses -- are important issues that have to be discussed," he said.

In the Cabinet reshuffle effected by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Ramesh was elevated from the rank of Minister of State (Independent Charge) to a Cabinet Minister and given the Rural Development portfolio.


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