A parliamentary panel has sought to put strict safeguards on the government’s powers to acquire land and recommended that no plot under cultivation be taken away unless as a last resort.
“The concept of food security in the (existing) bill totally rests on multi-cropped irrigated land, ignoring the importance of safeguarding and enhancing output in rain-fed areas. Food security can’t be limited to rice and wheat in the face of the imperative need for more nutritional coarse grains, pulses and oilseeds,” said the committee’s report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.
The panel recommended that states keep away from land acquisition for private or public-private partnership purposes. It narrowed down the meaning of ‘public purpose’ to linear infrastructure (rail, roads), irrigation and social ventures (schools, hospitals) financed by the state.
It also proposed 16 central laws on acquisition for SEZs, railways, highways and defence establishments be brought under the bill.
Confederation of Indian Industry chief Adi Godrej said the recommendations would adversely affect industry. “The bill had rightly included industry in the definition of ‘public purpose’ as it equally contributes to creating wealth and jobs,” he said.