Land bill shock for industry

Land bill shock for industry

Parliamentary panel redefines acquisition norms

Land bill shock for industry

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development, in a report tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday, recommended that the government refrain from acquiring land for industrial ventures of any kind, triggering resentment among industrialists of the country.

In its report on the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill, 2011, the committee said the government should acquire land only for building linear infrastructure like road and railways, irrigation projects including multi-purpose dams, apart from schools, hospitals and projects facilitating safe drinking water supply and sanitation.

It recommended that the government never acquire land for industry, either for private enterprises or public sector undertakings, not even for public private partnership projects.

The recommendations, if implemented, are certain to upset industrialists who are for the government acquire land for private industry ensure economic development and generate employment.

“When in the developed countries like USA, Japan, Canada, land is purchased by enterprises rather than acquired by the State, why should India in the 21st century persist with the anomalous practice?” the panel said.

President of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Adi Godrej said the recommendations would adversely affect the industry, specially the manufacturing sector. “The LARR Bill, 2011, had rightly included industry in the definition of Public Purpose as industry equally contributes in creating wealth and employment for the country,” he contended.

The government introduced the LARR Bill, 2011, in the Lok Sabha on September 7 last year to replace the archaic Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The bill was later referred to the standing committee on Rural Development.

The committee noted that the scope of “public purpose” as defined in the Bill included strategic facilities like defence establishments, railways, highways, ports, power and irrigation facilities for use by PSUs, residential accommodations for the poor, educational and healthcare institutions, PPP projects and even private ventures that benefited the public.

It, however, disapproved clauses and sub-clauses in the Bill providing discretionary powers to the executive to define “public purpose” and “infrastructure projects” and “for-profit enterprises.”

Providing respite to farmers battling forcible land acquisition by the state, the committee recommended changes in the bill to discourage acquisition of any land under cultivation, to ensure food security. The LARR Bill, however, allows acquisition of multi-cropped irrigated land as a “last resort.”

Besides, the committee suggested that acquired land lying unused for over five years be returned to the owner as against the LARR Bill’s 10-year timeframe.

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