Land Act bit draconian, state should frame own laws: Panagariya

  • PTI, New Delhi
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 18:02 IST

NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya has advised states to follow Tamil Nadu model for framing land acqisition laws as per their needs, while terming the existing 2013 Act as a bit "bit draconian".

"Tamil Nadu has a different Act or an amended Act in place since January 5, 2015. It has been almost 7-8 months, very few people knew about it. Tamil Nadu has, in fact, amended the 2013 Act (Land Act) and it applies to their state," Panagariya said in an interview to CNBC TV18.

He also said the Act got the Presidential assent and "other states could follow the same strategy".

Panagariya said the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, was a bit draconian and he had suggested the same to the government even before assuming the office at NITI Aayog.

"I was one of the very strong advocates even before I came to the NITI Aayog, that the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, was a bit draconian for the simple reason that some of the very important cases where public purpose is actually at stake, the acquisition would take at least 4-5 years," he said.

"So I advocated myself before reforming the Act and also advocated actually reforming the Act centrally because one state at a time is a longer process," he added.

His comments assume significance as the NDA government's efforts to amend the Land Acquisition Act have faced stiff opposition. Earlier, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also advised the states to frame their own Land Act with the Centre's approval.

The view of having separate land laws of different states emerged after the meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog with chief ministers in July this year.

"Now for the future, Tamil Nadu doesn't have to come back to the central government," Panagariya said.

The NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman said other states can follow the Tamil Nadu model, however, they still would have to come to the central government for the Presidential assent.

"But my own speculation is that once the assent has been given to Tamil Nadu or to one state, I don't think the central government can deny the same thing to the other states," he said.

Panagariya also said that he has advised Maharashtra and Rajasthan on the land acquisition act.

"I have passed on the advice to the Maharashtra Chief Minister and he has made a public statement that he is actually going to follow that rule...I have also suggested the same to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. So, I expect that they would be working on it," he added.

Meanwhile, the NITI Aayog has set up an expert committee under the chairmanship of T Haque, former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, to prepare a model agricultural land leasing act in consultation with states.

It will review the existing agricultural tenancy laws of states, examine the distinctive features of land system and suggest appropriate amendments keeping in view the need to legalise and liberalise land leasing for agricultural efficiency, equity, occupational diversification and rapid rural transformation.

The committee will have representatives from NITI Aayog, seven states and the rural ministry. The committee of three month's tenure will have Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Assam and Meghalaya in its fold.

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