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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Land act to get business-friendly

Brajesh Kumar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 01, 2014
First Published: 01:46 IST(1/7/2014) | Last Updated: 01:50 IST(1/7/2014)

The NDA government started consultations Monday to simplify the process for land acquisition after worries that the land acquisition act passed last year was making it difficult for India inc. to battle economic slowdown.

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Rural development minister Nitin Gadkari told HT he would protect the interests of the farmers but “at the same time, we are determined to see that industrialisation attains the pace, which it lost during the previous UPA regime”.

Sources said the government wasn’t in favour of lowering land compensation, which could be politically far too unpopular. “But we can, for instance,” said a senior government official, “look at speeding up the time to buy land” which could boost investors’ sentiment.

Clauses that could come under review include conditions of consent in cases of purely private-led projects, retrospective application of the law and the clause on social-impact assessment, a source said.

To kick start the process, Gadkari met the secretary of the land resources department Vandana Jena on Monday and asked her to compile a report for PM Modi on the suggestions made by the revenue minister of the states.
 
“The government will try to strike a balance between the two land bills — the original land bill of 1894 and the new one passed in 2013,” a ministry official told HT. There is consensus within the government that the older version of the law was too unfair to landowners and as a result the UPA had stymied growth.

Under the existing law, investors setting up projects are required to pay up to four times the market value of rural land and twice the value of urban land. They must also pay for the relocation and resettlement of dislocated people.

Takeover of private land for public projects has been a politically sensitive issue, while industry leaders have been dismayed by the law because it potentially raises costs and stretches the time required to purchase land.

Last Friday, Gadkari had met the revenue ministers, where concerns were expressed over various provisions of the 2013 land acquisition act. BJP-ruled states such as Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat advocated an overhaul of the law while those ruled by the Congress including Haryana and Maharashtra sought changes to make it practical. 


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