States complain against Land Acquisition Act

States complain against Land Acquisition ActNEW DELHI: Most of the states today came out openly against the new Land Acquisition Act, complaining that it had hurt the process of acquiring land for infrastructure projects and demanded “drastic changes” in certain provisions of the farmer-friendly law.

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 of at least 70 per cent locals for acquiring land for public-private-partnership (PPP) projects and 80 per cent for acquiring land for private companies.

The states also opposed provisions for Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study, which is made mandatory in all land acquisitions, saying that it was “time consuming and leading to cost escalation in small projects”.

The common refrain of most of the states was that certain provisions of the law, enacted during the tenure of previous UPA government, were posing a major hindrance in acquiring land for infrastructure and industrial projects.

“We have taken note of issues raised by states and will prepare a report which will be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in ten days,” Gadkari told reporters later.

At the same time, he expressed the government’s commitment to protect the interest of farmers.

“As far as the interest of farmers is concerned, especially compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement, our party and government have already decided we will not compromise any condition related with beneficiaries, particularly farmers,” he said. . Sources said most of the state including AIADMK-ruled Tamil Nadu, Congress-ruled Karnataka and Kerala, Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh and BJD-ruled Odisha complained that land acquisition for industrial and infrastructure projects had been impacted severely because of the Act.

BJP-ruled states criticized the Land Act, saying it was enacted “in a hurry” due to Lok Sabha elections and its provisions were adversely affecting even small projects.

Sources said states like Gujarat, Goa and Chattisgarh even demanded “drastic changes” of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, saying that “it was causing delay in even small projects”.

Odisha said the Act requires a “revamp”.

The sources said the BJP-ruled states even wanted a new Act in place of existing one which replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, a nearly 120-year-old law enacted during British rule.

Almost all states have complained that provisions in the Law particularly the SIA.

“The appointment of SIA unit in each district may also prove to be challenging. The introduction of public hearings at various stages may provide hindrance to the smooth conduct of the process,” Revenue Minister of Congress-ruled Kerala, Adoor Prakash, said criticizing the provision.

The state Revenue Ministers’ conference was convened at the instance of the Prime Minister after Finance Minister Arun Jaitley briefed him about apprehensions aired at the recent state Finance Ministers’ conference.

Sources said the states had “no issues with key provisions for compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement package for the affected farmers.

Haryana questioned the need of 70 per cent consent for acquiring land, saying the ownership of the land acquired for the PPP projects are coming back to the government.

The Congress-ruled state has demanded dilution of this provision.–PTI