Even as it waits for feedback from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on its list of suggested amendments to the new Land Acquisition Act, the Rural Development Ministry has started working on a plan B that would make the Act less stringent. It would also ease the process of acquiring land by expanding the category of projects ‘exempted’ from key requirements under the Act.
According to ministry officials, there is a concern that the government may find it difficult to push through all amendments suggested in the report to the PMO, given their “far-reaching and sweeping nature”. Hence, the ministry is preparing a proposal as a plan B to take the “easier route” and add more projects to the exempted list, officials said. The areas being considered are defence, important infrastructure projects and key road projects.
This is in line with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement at The Indian Express Adda, where he said that there was a need to expand the set of exemptions.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill was enacted by the UPA government last year and touted as a landmark legislation. Currently, the exemption under the Act applies to linear projects, including railways, highways and irrigation canals, among others.
In July this year, the ministry had sent a report to the PMO based on inputs received from states suggesting changes to the Act, which would make it more industry-friendly removing the requirement for mandatory social impact assessment study.