Land Acquisition Act to loose teeth in favor of industrialists?

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After a meeting with all State Revenue Ministers, Nitin Gadkari’s Union Revenue Ministry has decided to propose several changes to the landmark new Land Acquisition Act passed by the previous UPA government last year. But the changes being proposed might reduce many of the public friendly provisions of the law and might aid business houses more.

The mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent locals for acquiring land for PPP projects and 80 per cent for acquiring land for private projects are the major rules that will be affected. The key clause of Social Impact Assessment study has been criticized by states as time consuming for industrialization process and has been proposed to be removed. PM Narendra Modi has to take a call on these changes now.

“The Consent Clause (Section 2(2)) should be re-examined as ownership of land vests with the Government in PPP projects. The consent clause should be removed from PPP projects. Alternatively, consent requirement may be brought down to 50 per cent,” says the Ministry in its note sent to the PMO.

It says that “mandatory Social Impact Assessment study should be done away with. SIA should be confined to large projects/PPP Projects as it may delay acquisition process.”

Another key amendment suggested is with regard to the provision on acquisition of “multi-cropped irrigated land”. “The provision to safeguard food security (Section 10) by development of culturable wastelands in lieu of acquisition of multi-cropped irrigated land needs to be amended as States like Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand do not have any wasteland for the purpose,” is what the new proposal says.

At a meeting of State Revenue Ministers here chaired by Union Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari, the states including Congress-ruled Haryana objected to provisions for mandatory consent and Social Impact Assessment study, which were mandatory in all land acquisitions as per the existing Act.

The 1894 land acquisition act was changed in 2013 as the act is not representing present realities any more, giving more importance to public approval, rehabilitation and resettlement and better compensation packages.

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