Gujarat's Land Bill gets presidential nod, consent clauses for land acquisition done away with

The amended bill was passed by the state legislative assembly on March 31 this year. Then it was sent for presidential assent.

Published: 11th August 2016 06:21 PM  |   Last Updated: 11th August 2016 06:21 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat's Land Acquisition Bill, 2016, which dilutes Centre's stringent Land Acquisition Act 2013, has received the presidential assent, and will be implemented in the state from Independence Day.

The bill aims to do away with social impact assessment and consent clauses for acquisition of land for public purposes, industrial corridors and Public Private Partnership projects.

"President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the 'Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Gujarat Amendment) Bill 2016' on August 8," Revenue Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasma told reporters here today.

"We will implement the new law in the state from August 15, which is Independence Day," he said. The state government will notify it as an Act before August 15.

"The 2013 UPA Land Act had many anomalies. This new amended law of ours will remove those anomalies and facilitate fast-paced growth in the state," he said.

The amended bill was passed by the state legislative assembly on March 31 this year. Then it was sent for presidential assent.

After coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi government had brought in amendments to Land Acquisition Act-2013. All the amendments that were brought by NDA government were part of the bill that Gujarat assembly passed.

The NDA version, however, failed to pass the muster of Rajya Sabha as the BJP and allies lacked numbers in the Upper House. The Modi government then dropped the idea of passage of the bill in Rajya Sabha and instead asked states to amend the law suiting them.

One of the key provisions of the bill is doing away with Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for projects related to Defence and social sectors, such as building air base, defence manufacturing units, schools, roads, canals and affordable houses.

The other key change is that SIA will not be carried out for land acquisition for industrial corridor and PPP projects taken up by the government.

Another key amendment is doing away with the provision of consent of affected parties. As per the original Central Act, 80 per cent of land owners must give their nod for the acquisition of land.

As per the new Bill, these provisions will not be followed if the land is acquired for public purpose. However, it will remain in place for acquisition related to industrial development.

In the original Act, a head of the department is liable to face criminal proceedings and punished as per the law, if he is found guilty of any misdeeds related to land acquisition process. However, the government replaced the provision with a milder one.

As per the Bill, proceedings against head of the department will be subject to government's consent, without which he could not be prosecuted directly by court.

Apart from the social and defence sector projects, the Bill proposes to exempt from SIA industrial corridors set up by the state government and its undertakings, where it is required to acquire land up to 1 km on both sides of designated railway line or road.

In addition, the infrastructure projects under PPP mode, where land continues to vest with the government, are also exempted from social impact assessment and consent clause.

Chudasama said farmers will gain as compensation part has been kept unchanged. "In the urban areas compensation paid to land owners will be 100 per cent of the market value of the land, while in rural areas it would be 400 per cent," he said.

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