Jairam Ramesh: Govt won't buy land for builders

RameshRamesh said the industry must look beyond land acquisition by government.

Private builders cannot expect the government to acquire land on their behalf and if they want to, they should purchase it directly from farmers, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said when asked about his message to private industry on New Year's Day, when the new Land Acquisition Act came into force.

Investors had expressed apprehension that the new law, which replaced over a century old act, would make land acquisition more expensive for industrial and infrastructure development. Commenting on land acquired for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) but has not been put to use, he said the ministry would write to states.

He said there was no bar on purchase of private land. "You want land? Go buy the land," Ramesh said.

He said the government would not acquire land for private builders. Ramesh said the industry must look beyond land acquisition by government. "From today, no land can be acquired under the 1894 Act. From today, all land will be acquired under the new Act," he said, adding the law was enacted to address "widespread and historical injustices" done to tribals and farmers forcefully displaced while acquiring land, and make acquisition more transparent.

He said his ministry is taking steps to ensure rules are made to bring clarity to certain key processes defined in the parent law. He said these rules have been officially notified for formal consultation with public and will lay down the processes for Social Impact Assessment. These rules will provide details for obtaining consent of affected families. The minister said the new law can operate even without these rules coming into force. He said the new law could combat Naxalists in tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand.

The law aimed at just and fair compensation to farmers was passed by Parliament during the Monsoon Session and received Presidential assent on September 27. Ramesh said if a private project fulfills a public purpose, consent of 80 per cent of owners is required. "If it is a PPP project, 70 per cent consent is required," he said, adding no acquisition can take place without rehabilitation.

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