2013 Land Act has enough provisions to address India Inc’s worries, says Govt

Shishir Sinha AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 23, 2018

Joint Panel on Land Bill to submit report in winter session

The 2013 Land Act itself provides enough flexibility for the government to set up an industrial cluster or corridor where private companies can be allowed to set up projects while the land remains under state control, a senior government official said.

With no progress in the Bill to amend the Land Act, the government, based on legal opinions, believes that Section 2(1) of the existing Act gives it enough flexibility.

According to the official, the Section does not provide for ‘consent’ when land is acquired for various infrastructure projects – excluding private hospitals, private educational institutions and private hotels.

The only condition in the Section is that ‘land is acquired by appropriate government for its own use, hold and control.’

This interpretation has given confidence to the government that only ‘minor amendments’ in the present Act will serve the purpose.

The current Act refers to the notification on infrastructure activities.

While this notification alone has 20 infrastructure activities, the Act states that the list can be widened based on new infrastructure facilities notified in future.

“For the time being, at least 17 infrastructure projects can be taken up without consent and where the Government can facilitate private sector through various mechanism while following the act,” the official mentioned.

Consent clause

However, the word ‘also’ in Section 2(2) of the Act talks about consent of 80 per cent (in case land is acquired for private companies) and 70 per cent (in case land is acquired for public private partnership).

The official felt that this word will ‘automatically be extinguished in interpretation of the provision.’

Talking about social impact assessment, he said that based on the provisions of the present Act, it could take up to 52 months.

Apprehending such a long period to discourage developers, he said that the current Act enables States to approach the Centre with a proposal to cap the time to say 90 days or six months.

No consensus

Meanwhile, there was no consensus in the joint select committee on the clause 24 (2) that deals with “retrospective effect” in land acquisition – return of unused land and compensation. While the Congress demanded no change in the clause, the BJP members argued that it will open a Pandora’s Box. Citing the case filed Malcha Kalyan Samiti demanding the return of the land in Lutyen’s Delhi acquired in 2011, the BJP members argued that retaining such a clause will open similar cases throughout the country.

Published on August 11, 2015

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