NEW DELHI: Intended to convey a “we-mean-business” sentiment to investors in particular and the movers and shakers of the economy in general, the Central Government on Monday approved an Ordinance to amend the Right to Fair Compensation in Land Acquisition and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Justifying the Ordinance route taken for yet another Amendment Bill since the Winter session of Parliament, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the executive order on this matter, making it effective, had to be approved before December 31.
Addressing a joint news conference along with the Rural Development, Water and Sanitation Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh, Jaitley also said, “There is a need to strike a balance between farmers’ interests and industrial growth.”
The implication being that the restoration of balance has to be struck without further delay, so that big-ticket reform agenda of the government can be ushered in.
“The changes, which do not tamper with the compensation package for farmers, have been done after extensive consultation with the states,” he said.
The states, ministries and stakeholders had been reporting many difficulties in the implementation of the Act. Several suggestions had come up in interactions with state Revenue Ministers and key implementing ministries, the official release said.
It was also revealed that the Amendments to Land Acquisition met the “twin objectives of farmer welfare, along with expeditiously meeting the strategic and developmental needs of the country.” On whether keeping the five key areas out of the schedule would inevitably hit farmers’ interests, Jaitley quipped, “Do you want development or not?”
The government release also said, “In the process of prolonged procedure for land acquisition, neither the farmer is able to get benefit nor is the project completed in time for the benefit of society at large.”
Five areas, which have been exempted from “prolonged” consensus building among stakeholders are -- (i) land for projects relating to national security and defence purposes, (ii) for rural infrastructure, electrification, (iii) affordable housing and housing projects for poor, (iv) industrial corridor (for comprehensive all-round development) and (v) and lastly, infrastructure projects.
Harping on the point that the compensation will remain high as per the Act and that rehabilitation and resettlement will follow, Jaitley said, “The procedure for acquiring land for these projects will be made easier by omitting steps like social impact assessment, impact on food security, and consent of 80 per cent land owners, among other features for the Act.”