Land Acquisition Bill introduced in Lok Sabha

The proposed bill provides for just and fair compensation and makes it compulsory for consent of 80% people of any area where land is to be acquired for developmental purposes

New Delhi: The government today introduced in the Lok Sabha a bill that provides for just and fair compensation and makes it compulsory for consent of 80% people of any area where land is to be acquired for developmental purposes, reports PTI.

The much-awaited Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, was introduced by rural development minister Jairam Ramesh after making some changes in its earlier draft. The proposed legislation will replace a more than century old Act.

Mr Ramesh said the adverse impact on affected families-economic, environmental, social and cultural-must be assessed in participatory and transparent manner.

The final version of the bill, prepared after pre-legislative consultation with various stakeholders, clearly states that multi-crop irrigated land could be acquired "as a last resort measure".

The first draft had said the government did not envisage acquiring "any multi-crop irrigated land" for public purposes.

"To ensure food security, multi-crop irrigated land shall be acquired only as a last resort measure," says the bill.

It also proposes to develop an equivalent area of cultivable wasteland, if multi-crop land is acquired.

The bill also says only rehabilitation and resettlement provisions will apply when private companies buy land for a project-more than 100 acres in rural areas, or more than 50 acres in urban areas.

'Public purpose' has been comprehensively defined, so that government's intervention in acquisition is limited to "defence, (and) certain development projects only".

"It has also been ensured that consent of at least 80% of the project affected families is to be obtained through a prior informed process," Mr Ramesh said.

The bill also proposes to include provision for creation of a land bank in states to keep the acquired land with it if it is not used in 10 years by the concerned party.

Provision in the first draft was to return the land to original owner if it was not used in five years for the purpose for which it is acquired.

"Land that is not used within 10 years in accordance with the purposes, for which it was acquired, shall be transferred to the state government's land bank," says the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.

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TRAI recommendations soon on blocking lost, stolen mobiles

TRAI is revisiting the issue, after its earlier attempt in 2004 bore no result because a number of telecom networks did not have the capability to track mobile handsets

New Delhi: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) may soon finalise recommendations on blocking lost and stolen mobiles to provide relief to people who fear misuse of the stored data and personal information in such events, reports PTI.

The initiative is part of the regulator's efforts to curb the illegal handset market and discourage the rampant theft of handsets, TRAI officials said here today.

The recommendations are expected to be out within a month, they said.

"There needs to be infrastructure in place similar to that for stopping pesky calls. TRAI will come out with recommendations on ways to block lost or theft mobile phones using International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number within a month," a TRAI official said.

IMEI is a unique serial number that identifies the handset. It is stored in the equipment identity register (EIR) database of the service provider.

Last year, TRAI had sought comments from stakeholders, including operators, to find ways to block lost or stolen mobile phones.

At present, there is no mechanism in place to block a mobile phone in case it is lost. The telecom service providers can only block the SIM card. They, however, do not block the mobile phone.

TRAI is revisiting the issue, after its earlier attempt in 2004 bore no result because a number of telecom networks did not have the capability to track mobile handsets.

Recently, TRAI came out with 27th September as the deadline to stop telemarketing calls and SMSes in order to provide relief to customers.

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ONGC starts oil, gas production from GS-15 field

ONGC has also drawn up plans to begin production from its G-1 marginal field in the KG Basin from July 2012

Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has started oil and gas production from its Krishna Godavari basin GS-15 field off the Andhra coast.

"We started production last week," ONGC director (offshore) Sudhir Vasudeva said on the sidelines of the World Energy Policy Summit. He said ONGC has also drawn up plans to begin production from its G-1 marginal field in the KG Basin from July 2012.

The company has asked the petroleum ministry to identify gas users and approve a price of $4.75 per million British thermal units. About 0.19 million standard cubic metres per day of gas is being produced, he said, adding that output would go up to 1.52 mmscmd from July next year (subsequent to the G-1 field coming onstream) and to 1.72 mmscmd in 2013-14.

ONGC cited the Oil Ministry's gas pricing order, which had fixed a base price of $4.50 per mmBtu for gas from the KG Basin and given an additional $0.25 per mmBtu if the gas was coming from offshore fields, to demand a gas price of USD 4.75 per mmBtu.

The official said the output will begin to dip from 2013-14 to 1.59 mmscmd and taper to 0.029 mmscmd by 2022-23. The field will also produce 9,400 barrels of crude oil per day.

ONGC envisages the production of 0.982 million tonnes of sweet or low-sulfur crude and 5.92 billion cubic metres of gas over a period of 15 years from G-1 and GS-15. G-1 is located 28 kilometres off the Amalapuram coast, in water depths ranging from 135-500 metres, while GS-15 is located 5 km from the coast in the KG Basin. G-1 and GS-15 are two marginal fields that were awarded to ONGC on a nomination basis. The two acreages are being developed together at an estimated cost of Rs1,200 crore.

In the late afternoon, ONGC was trading at around Rs263.20 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange, 0.86% up from the previous close.

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