The otherwise low profile Rural Development Ministry was in the limelight during 2013 thanks to several reforms including passage of the path-breaking Land Acquisition Bill.
Enactment of the new law, which will provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land can be acquired forcibly, was possible after Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh held several meetings with leaders of
various political parties.
In the process, the government also accepted some Opposition amendments, including two moved by Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act will be notified on January 1, 2014 replacing over a century-old law. When asked about his biggest achievement in the year, Ramesh told PTI, "Contrary to all expectations, the new Land Acquisition Bill was passed and it will become an Act on January 1, 2014 exactly 120 years after the original bill was passed."
He thanked leaders of all political parties including BJP's Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, JD(U) President Sharad Yadav, Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP's Mayawati for helping the government to get the key legislation
passed after two years of its introduction in Parliament.
He also recalled the "very important contributions" made by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi in enacting the historic legislation.
The year also saw the Rural Development Ministry coming out with its phase II of the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to upgrade rural roads constructed under the programme.
The Union Cabinet gave its approval for a proposal mooted by Ramesh for launching the PMGSY-II.
While the existing PMGSY scheme will continue, under PMGSY phase II, the roads already built for rural connectivity will be upgraded to enhance village infrastructure.
Another significant initiative taken by the Ministry in the year was granting approval for setting up of an independent society for "transforming livelihoods and lives of
rural households, with an emphasis on women" in tribal areas.
The Rural Development Ministry's proposal to set up the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF) with a corpus of Rs 500 crore in partnership between the government and private sector philanthropic organisations was approved by the Cabinet.The Rural Development Ministry, at the fag end of the year, also announced significant changes to its flagship MNREGA programme seeking to ensure permanent and durable asset creation and introduction of penalty for delayed wage
payments. During the outgoing year, the Rural Development Ministry also launched a