Centre may allow states flexibility of having consent clause, SIA in land bill

Seeking to placate the Opposition on the vexed land acquisition bill, the Centre may include a fresh section in it to allow state governments have the provision of a consent clause and social impact assessment while implementing the law.

PTI| Updated: Jul 22, 2015, 19:41 PM IST

New Delhi: Seeking to placate the Opposition on the vexed land acquisition bill, the Centre may include a fresh section in it to allow state governments have the provision of a consent clause and social impact assessment while implementing the law.

Sources in the government said today that inclusion of a fresh clause through an official amendment is one of the various options being weighed.

According to the proposal, if some states want to have social impact assessment and seek consent from farmers before acquiring their land, they will be free to do so.

Faced with a stalemate on the controversial land bill, the Union Cabinet had last night discussed the issue amid suggestions that government may tweak some of its provisions to make it palatable to the Opposition.

There are indications that Government plans to bring some official amendments to the vexed bill, in order to take the Opposition on board.

Several states have opposed the "dilution" of provisions of the original Land Acquisition Act of 2013 regarding the consent of farmers and exemption from social impact assessment (SIA).

Another option before the government is to re-introduce the consent clause with certain dilutions and having social impact assessment in some other form.

The discussion in the Cabinet came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed agreement with the remarks of SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav that since there is no consensus on the issue, both government and opposition should make some adjustments to resolve the issue.

Referring to the protracted issue, Yadav had said on Monday in an all-party meeting that both the government and the opposition should collectively endeavor adopting a give and take approach to find a solution.

The Joint Committee of Parliament examining the controversial land acquisition bill was today given an extension till the first week of August to submit its report. The Committee was originally mandated to table its report on Tuesday -- on the first day of the Monsoon session.

The bill to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 has got stuck because of opposition by various parties. Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, is aggressively campaigning against it.

While the 2013 law required the consent of 80 per cent of land-owners to be obtained for private projects and that of 70 percent for PPP ones, the present Bill exempts five categories from this provision -- defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects, including public-private partnership (PPP) projects where the government owns the land.

The 2013 Act also required that a social impact assessment be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired. This provision has been done away with.

Out of 672 representations that the committee received, 670 have opposed the amendments being brought by the NDA government in the land bill, particularly dropping the consent clause and social impact survey. So far, 52 representatives have also appeared before the committee.

At least three of BJP's allies -- Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Swabhimani Paksha besides a number of farmer and labour organisations attached with RSS like Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh and Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram red-flagged a number of provisions of the proposed legislation including removal of provisions of consent clause and social impact assessment (SIA).