July 16, 2014 | By Parmjeet Singh
New Delhi, India (July 16, 2014): As it was expected, the newly formed Narendra Modi led BJP government in India is stepping towards bringing changes in the new Land Acquisition Act to make it more “industry friendly”.
The Hindutva party and it’s prime ministerial candidate was backed by big/giant corporate and business houses and it was expected that soon after the formation of government at central level the Narendra Modi shall attempt to frame legal devices to clear “hurdles” in land acquisition.
Modi government is so much keen to bring in these changes that it may be convening an all-party meet to evolve a “consensus” so that a Bill to amend the one-year-old law could be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament.
Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari has already started informal consultations with the allies as well as some of the opposition parties.
According to media reports the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) has sent a note to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), suggesting dilution in some of the key provisions of the Act, as proposed by the revenue ministers of the state governments during their recent meeting with Gadkari.
The provisions that the MoRD is keen to dilute include the one that made it mandatory to obtain prior consent of at least 70 per cent of land owners in case of acquisitions for public-private-partnership (PPP) projects and 80 per cent in case of private projects.
The government seems eager to bring in a legislation that would legalize snatching away the “required” land by removing the clause that requires consent of the land owners.
In its note to the PMO, the MoRD suggested that the requirement of consent of land owners should be done away with for the PPP projects, where the governments hold ownership of the land.
If the rider cannot be struck off, the clause should be revised to make sure that land could be acquired even if 50 per cent of the owners had given consent, the MoRD argued in its note.
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The Congress-led UPA government got the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill passed by both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha during the monsoon session of Parliament last year.
It replaced the archaic Land Acquisition Act of 1894. The new law was projected as a pro-farmer legislation and triggered concerns in the industry about the delays it would cause to acquire land for any project.
Though the BJP helped pass the bill in Parliament, the party hinted during its campaign for the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year that it would give the law a re-look if elected to power.
The Congress is expected to safeguard the pro-farmer clauses in the Act.
The revenue ministers of some of the states ruled by it sought dilution of the provisions to remove hurdles in acquisition and thus expedite projects.
The other significant change proposed by the MoRD is dilution of the clause that made social impact assessments mandatory for all projects necessitating acquisition of land.
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