The Ministry of Rural Development will soon put up maps demarcating the availability of wasteland in the country to help in the process of land acquisition, Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Friday.

Ideally, non-irrigated land should be the first to be acquired, Ramesh said, while addressing the CII’ National Council Meeting. Putting up wasteland maps on its Web site would help in the process of land acquisition, he said, adding that acquiring multi-crop irrigated land for industrialisation should be the last resort.

However, several State Governments have expressed concern that urbanisation in their States would be hit as majority of land available in States such as Punjab, Kerala and Haryana is farm land. “Now, everyone will have a good idea of how much non-agricultural land is available,” Ramesh said. The maps, demarcating multi-crop irrigated, irrigated, barren land, wasteland and other such areas, is likely to be put up on the Ministry Website in two-three weeks.

Industry members highlighted a number of issues with the new land acquisition Act — the Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition — including the 80 per cent consent clause, the requirement to give back land if it is unused for five years, and the long time period for the acquisition process to be completed. B. Muthuraman, Vice-Chairman of Tata Steel, said in the current form the land acquisition process will take about five years to complete. However, Ramesh clarified that the many of the processes are supposed to be completed parallelly and the process should take about three to 3.5 years.

He also said that where the project for which land was acquired is unable to start for logical reasons, such as delays in statutory clearances, companies will not be penalised (by taking the land back).

Answering questions about resistance from people, Ramesh said, “It is possible that with the new packages (higher compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation) being given, a large part of the reluctance may come down.”