Signalling drastic changes to the process of land acquisition, the BJP-ruled States have urged the Narendra Modi Government to repeal the “anti-industry, anti-development and anti-farmer” Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

Interestingly, several Congress-ruled States too have criticised the Act, particularly the compulsory clauses on Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and consent of gram sabhas.

Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari said the suggestions from the States will be sent to the Prime Minister, who is likely to take a final call on the future of the UPA Government’s pet legislation.

The Minister also hinted that the Bill will be brought to Parliament soon after the Prime Minister’s decision. A Government source said a decision on this is likely to be taken ahead of the monsoon session of Parliament.

During a meeting of the Revenue Ministers and senior revenue officials of all States and Union Territories here on Friday on the Act, it was pointed out that none of States, except Punjab, were able to do any land acquisition in the last six months. In Punjab, 10 acres of land was acquired for a road project.

“Almost all the States participated in the meeting felt that many amendments are required to the Act,” a Ministry source said. West Bengal said it is against any sort of forcible acquisition of the land, even if it is for a Government project. All the States said the SIA is complicated and needs to be relooked. Haryana said the mandatory consent of 70 per cent for PPP projects should either be done away with or should be reduced to 40-0 per cent. The State argued that in PPPs, the land will remain as a property of the State.

Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat demanded that the Act be revisited. They said a new Act should be brought in Parliament soon. Many States even argued that the name of the Act is big and it should be shortened.

Farmer-friendly Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Gadkari said the Government wants to make the Act farmer-friendly. “As far as the interest of farmers is concerned, especially compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement, our party and the government have already decided we will not compromise any condition related with beneficiaries, particularly farmers. The BJP government is committed to protect the interest of farmers,” he said. Gadkari added that the concerns are not on the compensation and rehabilitation.

Business Line had earlier reported that the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, in a submission to the Rural Development Ministry, had said that provisions such as mandatory consent of project-affected people for land acquisition should not apply to infrastructure projects where the Government has a stake.