TRYING to address concerns raised by state governments and industry to simplify land acquisition, the NDA government is contemplating relaxing provisions in the new Land Acquisition Act by making requirements for consent and Social Impact Assessment less stringent.
At a meeting of state revenue ministers called by Union Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari Friday, several BJP-ruled states criticised the law as being “politically motivated” and demanded a drastic revamp. Some Congress-ruled states also objected to certain provisions under the Act.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill was enacted last year by the Congress-led UPA government.
Sources said the government is debating amending the consent clause in the Act to make it more industry-friendly. Currently, prior consent is required from 70 per cent of affected families if land is being acquired for Public Private Partnership projects, and from 80 per cent in case of private companies.
There has been opposition to the consent clause which industry feels mandates too high a percentage of families. The ministry is now considering exempting linear projects — road, rail and power lines where the route is defined — altogether from the consent clause and reducing requirement for other projects.
Sources also said that to reduce timelines for all acquisition — another key concern raised by industry and states alike — the ministry could reduce the time period of Social Impact Assessment from six months. No changes, however, are being planned to the compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement provisions.
At today’s meeting, BJP-ruled Goa said the Act had been “hurriedly passed” and demanded fast-tracking acquisition, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, also BJP-ruled states, said even small projects were facing hurdles.
Congress-ruled states like Assam, Haryana and Maharashtra expressed reservations about the consent and Social Impact Assessment clauses and demanded relaxation. Sources in the ministry say some states have even laid down that they have the “exclusive right” to amend the Act.
After the meeting, Gadkari said: “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. The BJP government is committed to protect the interest of farmers.” He said a report will be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 10 days based on inputs received from states.