International Business Times, 28 June 2014, New Delhi: Keeping the farmers’ interest primary to changes suggested by state ministers in the Land Acquisition (LA) Bill, Indian Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari will present a report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi before the budget session.
After a meeting with state revenue ministers and secretaries, Gadkari said that he had compiled all the suggestions by the state ministers on many clauses such as consent clause. He had said that the decision will be taken before the budget session after it will be presented before Modi.
“We will take the suggestions of the state governments on board, compile all of them and present the report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the next 10 days. If needed, we will take the suggestions to Cabinet, and if needed we will then take it to Parliament (for incorporation),” Mint quoted Gadkari.
The amendments in the LA Act with inclusion of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, was introduced in 2013 by the UPA-led government.
Ministers of states during the meeting with Gadkari demanded change in the law as it is not in favour of industrial and economic growth. They also proposed to scrap Social Impact Assessment (SIA), as it takes time in assessing the social costs of the project. They were also of the view that the SIA will lead to rise in the costs for small projects.
Although, Gadkari assured to take the suggestion before the Centre, he made it clear that any changes in the Act will not affect farmers’ interest.
“As far as the interests of farmers are concerned, especially compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement, our party and the government have already decided that we will not compromise on any condition related to beneficiaries, particularly farmers,” Business Standard quoted him.
Industries have raised concern over the increased costs of the projects due to the new law and criticized the clause, according to which 80 percent consent of the affected families needs to be obtained for private projects, while 75 percent consent is a must for public-private projects.
Many infrastructure and industrial works has been delayed as the new law has resulted in escalated project costs, according to news reports. Arpita Mukherjee, a professor at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Delhi said that the law introduced last year has hiked the land costs from 5 percent to 40 percent.
“No private player can be attracted to invest in infrastructure and other such projects if the land costs are so high,” she said.
Under the new amended law, around 265 projects worth ₹75,000 crore and 142 projects costing ₹35,000 crore has been delayed as they have not been cleared yet. Many infrastructural projects is on hold due to lack of consent.
The issue was first raised in a meeting of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley with state finance ministers; Jaitley then forwarded the responsibility to Gadkari who has resumed the office of Rural Development after the death of Gopinath Pandurang Munde on 3 June.
State ministers and secretaries from Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Telangana and Tamil Nadu attended the meeting with Gadkari on Friday.