Ficci seeks revisit of proposed Land Acquisition Bill

Ficci seeks revisit of proposed Land Acquisition Bill New Delhi: Industry body Ficci Friday said the government should relook at certain clauses of the proposed Land Acquisition Bill such as role of state governments and the entitlements for the private sector, prior to placing it before the Cabinet.

Group of Ministers on Land Acquisition Bill, headed by Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar, had approved the proposed legislation with changes last month.

In a letter to Pawar, Ficci President R V Kanoria said state governments should also help in land acquisition for the private sector other than public purpose projects.

In a densely populated country like India, states must necessarily have a facilitating role in land acquisition for the industry as in some cases where large pieces of land are required there may be a problem for a marginal number who hold out, he said.

"However, as we understand the Bill totally rules out the possibility of land acquisition for private sector, except in case of 'public purpose', even if private sector has purchased majority of the land needed for the project," he added.

He said in case of large projects like steel and cement there is going to be a problem for private sector in the last mile purchase.

"In such cases, if the government does not facilitate acquisition then in all possibility the projects may not take off. Hence, in those cases where 75 percent of the land has been purchased, the Bill could provide for acquisition by private sector if requested by industry," he added.

Kanoria also said the consent requirement for land acquisition should not be more than two-thirds of the land owners as against the proposed 80 percent.

"I must say that the definition of project affected families is too wide and it would be practically difficult to identify them and attain the consent of project affected people," Kanoria said.

He further said the issue of acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land should be re-examined since states falling in Indo-Gangetic plains like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have significant portion of area falling under irrigated agriculture land.

The Bill has proposed that irrigated multi-cropped land can be acquired only under exceptional circumstances.

"Such a clause in itself is subject to varying interpretations and is ambiguous. Such restrictions on the use of agricultural land for industrial use would further increase the inter-state and intra-state imbalances. This issue needs to be re-examined," Kanoria said.

He added that land prices determined by market forces and agreed between the buyer and seller must be kept outside the rehabilitation and resettlement provisions.

Also, in the case of acquisitions for 'public purpose' for the private sector, Kanoria said there is not much change from the original R&R provisions of the Bill.

The Ficci president said this would put a burden arising out of higher costs and administrative requirements.

"These are some of the critical suggestions which we feel need to be taken into account before any legislation is finalised," he added.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament.

PTI