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Govt shouldn't play role in acquiring land: report

The Standing Committee on Rural Development that tabled its report on Thursday on the existing Land Acquisition Act has made recommendations on the role played by the government on acquiring land for private business.

The report says 'When in developed countries like USA, Japan, Canada, etc. land is acquired by such enterprises (private companies) rather than acquired by the state, why should India in the 21st century persist with this anomalous practise?'

The report further states that 'public purpose' in the draft bill should be limited to linear infrastructure and irrigation, including multipurpose dams and hospitals. The committee, in its report, has expressed disapproval of the fact there is wide discretion in the hands of the executive to define 'public purpose' and 'infrastructure projects' for profit enterprises.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development, which was chaired by the BJP leader Sumitra Mahajan, has also expressed reservation over the role of the central government when it comes to providing relief and rehabilitation package in cases where private companies purchase 100 acres of land in rural areas or 50 acres of land in urban areas. In the draft bill it will be the central government that will make laws on purchase of land by a private company.

The report states that sale/purchase of a land is a state subject and the relief and rehabilitation provisions shall be provided by the state legislature. The report also mentions that the limit/ceiling for the acquisition shall be fixed by respective states keeping in view the availability of the land and the density of the population. Madhya Pradesh government has in fact put a strongly worded objection over the central government role calling it an assault on the federal principle.

On the issue of acquiring multi crop land , the draft bill had proposed that such land may acquired under exceptional circumstances and in no case exceed five percent of the total irrigated multi crop areas in that district. The committee in its report has mentioned that while acquiring multi cropped land in the last resort, food security cannot be limited to rice and wheat only and it should be expanded to pulses, oilseeds . The report recommends that the provision regarding multi crop land should be expanded to any land under agriculture cultivation to ensure safe guard for food security.
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