'Proposed Land Acquisition Bill is a concern for the industry'

'Proposed Land Acquisition Bill is a concern for the industry' New Delhi: Expressing its concerns over the Land Acquisition Bill, FICCI Thursday said the proposed legislation should balance the interests of the farmers and the industry.

"The proposed Land Acquisition Bill is a concern. We remain very uncomfortable with the Bill as it was tabled and some of the changes being proposed add to that discomfort and we do believe that this will stand in the way of growth and employment," FICCI President Naina Lal Kidwai said here.

The chamber said that there are major concerns of the industry which remain unaddressed.

The industry is in favour of fair compensation for land owners but at the same time we need to ensure that land is available to industry at competitive rates, without delays and with certainty, it said.

The Bill proposes the payment of compensation that is up to four times the market value in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.

"There is a need to ensure that people unaware in the past are now properly compensated. But at the end of the day, if you are not going to have any industry, no jobs, then that won't be right, Kidwai said.

Stating that there is a need for more industry engagement on the issue, she said, "There is a need for a balance. At the moment our worry is that the balance is titled away from the industry... If it is balanced, it is still okay, so we need to have a balance...."

In the All Party Meeting, on April 18, a broad consensus was reached among political parties over the much-awaited Land Acquisition Bill after the government gave in to a key demand of BJP for 50 percent compensation to farmers and sorted out certain other sticky issues.

The consensus paved way for consideration and passage of the significant but contentious bill in the second part of the budget session of Parliament.

Further, Kidwai said, the application of Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) to private transactions on willing buyer willing seller basis defies economic logic.

In the All Party Meeting, the government also agreed to another demand of the BJP, which had suggested that instead of acquisition, land could be leased to developers so that its ownership will remain with the farmers and would provide them with regular annual income.

It has agreed to amend the Bill to provide for an enabling provision for states to enact laws in this regard as leasing of land is a state subject.

"A lease may reduce the front-outlays but on the other hand it has got uncertainty factor attached to it. Leases have inherent uncertainty regarding renewals, particularly where the period is short," FICCI Senior Vice-President Sidharth Birla said.

Besides, he said, leased lands will impact mergers and acquisitions. "All this needs to be evaluated before making it a part of the Bill."

To ensure faster implementation of projects, Ficci said, it is regularly submitting its feedback regarding the projects which are facing delays due to want of various clearances to the Cabinet Committee on Investments (CCI).

The most recent, which was submitted to last week only, is the list of 14 manufacturing projects above USD 184 million submitted to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, it said.

"A total of USD 24 billion of manufacturing projects have been reported to us that are delayed because of various clearances as on April 2013," it said.

"Before you look at new projects, you need to clear other stuck projects and once the stuck projects will be cleared, the country's GDP will clearly improve by 1 percent," Kidwai said.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said the recent initiatives take by the CCI would spur investment activity which is essential for promoting growth and job creation.

"In the previous three meetings, the CCI had cleared projects in sectors like oil and gas, road and power (envisaging) investments worth USD 14 billion... As we remove investment bottlenecks, you will find growth picking up. Growth in 2013-14 will be between 6.1-6.7 percent," the Minister had said.

PTI