New Delhi: President Ramnath Kovind has given assent to twelve bills of different state governments including the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bills of BJP-ruled Maharashtra and Haryana Government during the last 3-months.
The central legislation of similar nature, known popularly as Land Acquisition Amendment Act, is pending before a Joint Parliamentary Committee of the Parliament since 2015. The BJP State governments were urging the Union government to allow them to pass similar type of law for their states as many infrastructural projects are kept pending for quite a long time. In line with the Governments of Maharashtra and Haryana Government, all other BJP-ruled State governments were advised to enact a similar law for speedy acquisition of lands.
President Kovind, while giving due consideration to all other state bills, returned only one bill passed by the BJP-ruled Assam Governments with a suggestion to amend properly. The bill was about payment of bonus (Assam Amendment Bill) 2017. The bill was not consistent with the law passed by the Central Government recently. Earlier, the President has given assent to as many as 19 bills within a span of three months after assuming office as the President.
From the month of March to May of this year President has given assent to two bills from the state of Delhi, two from Maharashtra, three from Uttar Pradesh and one from Madhya Pradesh. Among these bills most important was Land Acquisition Bills of Maharashtra and Haryana Government. Maharashtra Government wanted to make changes to the earlier Act of 2013 that will enable the speedy acquisition of the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway. Now, the President has given assent to the bill, the acquisition will be done under the Maharashtra Highways Act, and will enable the government to eliminate the step of conducting a social impact assessment (SIA) study, and also acquire the irrigated and multi-crop land for the corridor.
The state is facing stiff resistance from farmers in Nashik and Thane districts for the acquisition of land for Mumbai-Nagpur corridor. Though the total land acquired has reached 64%, it is much lower in these districts, and the state may have to impose the Land Acquisition Act for compulsory acquisition for the 701-km project. The acquisition of land under the Act involves various stages, and the process takes at least 2 to 3 years. The amendment will, however, help the government cut the period short by one year, as the bill has proposed to exempt chapter 2 and 3, which deal with SIA and acquisition of the irrigated land.
Similarly, after getting assent from the President, Haryana government will now be able to acquire land without much resistance from the farmers. Similiar type of bill has been given for the state of Madhya Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh Government got assent about a bill which deals with the welfare of the shopowners.