Issues like govt’s role in land acquisition, the definition of public purpose and rehabilitation norms need to be adequately addressed
The last few weeks have been witness to several important reform measures taken by the government and its steely resolve to assist the industry. Whether it was FDI in multi-brand retail or the setting up of the Cabinet Committee on Investments, a strong message has been sent to investors that this government is committed to usher in the next generation of reforms in the country, which have been long awaited. Of course there are much bigger reforms that industry is eagerly awaiting.
However, all these efforts could come to naught if the Land Bill, which has been approved by the Cabinet, does not facilitate industrial development in the country. Though we do not have the details of the Bill approved by the Cabinet, we would like to express some of the fundamental concerns of the industry with regard to the Bill. We hope that these concerns and the implications of the Bill for the economy as a whole and not just with regard to a particular section, are seriously deliberated in Parliament before being approved.
First, we need to assess the implications on the overall economic development in the country. Our industrial sector is already reeling under a prolonged slowdown and the Bill in its present form could prove to be a further dampener to industrial growth. It has serious implications for the development of the Indo-Gangetic plains which encompass the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. These areas are amongst the most densely populated regions of the country and the passage of the Bill would result in denying the people of this area the opportunity of participating in the industrial growth of the country. Here, I would like to quote our Prime Minister from his recent speech at Punjab Agricultural University: “However, we must recognise that even as Punjab leads in agriculture, it cannot afford to neglect the development of the non-agricultural sector, particularly the manufacturing sector. The youth of Punjab will increasingly look for productive employment opportunities outside agriculture and it is necessary to ensure that there are enough employment opportunities for them. One way of doing this is for Punjab’s agriculture to develop post farm agro-processing linkages”. As we understand, the Bill suggests that each state have certain restrictions on the use of multi-crop or agricultural