Draft rules for land acquisition will be out next week: Minister

New Delhi, Oct 4 (IANS) Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Friday said the government will work with industry in formulating the rules to implement the Land Acquisition Act.

"We will work with industry in drafting the rules for the Act," Ramesh said during an interactive session with the industry stakeholders organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013, passed by Parliament during the monsoon session, received the President's assent last month.

The Act would be notified after finalization either on January 1, 2014 or April 1, 2014. It will come into effect once the notification is issued.

Ramesh has announced that the draft rules, procedures and guidelines of the Act 2013 will be placed in the public domain in the next week or so, and will be finalised after getting the comments and feedback in 45 days.

The minister reassured the industry saying that a permanent rules advisory committee, consisting of all stakeholders including land-owners, civil society and industry, was envisaged to review implementation of the law on a regular basis.

The industry has voiced concerns regarding possible procedural delays in implementation of the Act at a time when growth rate was already subdued.

The Minister said time-lines for procedures were clearly delineated in the Act and penalties would be invited for any delays. Some procedures could run concurrently and would be completed in about 36-42 months.

He also announced that the government would shortly be completing mapping of land to identify wasteland and barren tracts through the National Remote Sensing Agency and would be making this information available for public use.

Clarifying the issue of consent, he confirmed that consent of 80 per cent of land-losers would be required in cases of land acquisition by government for private companies and 70 percent in case of public-private partnership (PPP) projects.

The compensation would be based on circle rates as well as average of top prices for proximate land parcels of last three years, whichever is higher, leaving no room for confusion. Similarly, R&R provisions would begin but need not be completed before the land acquisition process commenced.

Moreover, R&R would be conducted by state governments as per thresholds set by them and private companies would only need to deposit the R&R entitlements with the state government. The retrospective clause would be applicable only in the three cases mentioned in the Act, clarified Ramesh.

He assured India Inc that nothing in the law should discourage private sale and purchase of land.

The minister further said that in future land acquisition should happen more on a bilateral manner. "In the next 20 years land acquisition should happen through bilateral transaction. We should move towards it."

The minister also said that the Act will lead to substantial decline in land-related conflicts in the country.

"My conviction is that this Act will lead to a substantial decline in land-related conflicts. It will lead to a decline in lot of agitations that we have been seeing hopefully because of the nature, in which provisions have been brought," he said.

The industry leaders who attended the interactive session were Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group; Kris Gopalakrishnan, executive vice-chairman, Infosys; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman and managing director, Biocon Limited; Rahul Bajaj of Bajaj Electricals; and Rajive Kaul, chairman, Nicco Corporation, among others.

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