New Delhi, Dec 29: The union cabinet Monday approved an ordinance to amend the Land Acquisition Act, adding five more areas which will be exempted from the requisites given in the act.
“There is a need to strike a balance between farmers’ interest and industrial growth,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said at a briefing after the cabinet meeting.
Jaitley said the five areas were: Clearance for land for defence purposes, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and housing projects for poor, industrial corridors, and infrastructure or social infrastructure projects, including those in public-private projects in which ownership of land will remain with the government.
Jaitley said while the compensation will remain high as per the act, and rehabilitation and resettlement will be followed, the procedure for acquiring land for these projects will be easier by omitting steps like social impact assessment, impact on food security, and consent of 80 percent land owners, among other features of the act.
The minister said the act originally had several “oversight errors”.
“We have achieved a balance in the act…While the procedures have been relaxed for these five development activities, higher compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement remain same,” said Jaitley.
“These five purposes are related to development and rural development,” he said.
When asked that the exemptions cover a vast area, the minister said: “How will we build infrastructure otherwise? We need land for it.”
According to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013, the process for land acquisition involves a social impact assessment survey, preliminary notification stating the intent for acquisition, a declaration of acquisition, and compensation to be given by a certain time.
All acquisitions require rehabilitation and resettlement of the people affected by the acquisition.
It also says compensation for the owners of the acquired land shall be four times the market value in rural areas and twice in urban areas.
The act already exempts land acquisition for all linear projects such as highways, irrigation canals, railways, ports and others.
The provisions of the act do not apply to acquisitions under 13 existing legislations, including the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the Railways Act, 1989, etc. (IANS)