Bhubaneswar, Aug. 31: The Land Acquisition Bill passed by the Lok Sabha, which is being hailed as “revolutionary” by some, may hit the industrialisation drive in the state where a number of projects are caught in land tangles.
The proposed law, which makes consent of 80 per cent of landholders in the project area mandatory for land acquisition in the case of private projects, is likely to suit protesters who have been blocking the land acquisition process in many parts of the state.
In the case of public-private-partnership projects, the law requires the consent of 70 per cent of landowners. It also stipulates that landholders in rural areas be paid twice to four times the benchmark value of their land as compensation while in urban areas it would be two times its value.
Of the 93 projects in steel, aluminium and cement sectors for which the state government has signed MoUs with different companies, the assessment of land requirement has been made in case of 72. This comes to 75,282.817 acres, of which 39,464.837 acres have been allotted to these industries. Acquiring the remaining 42,817.98 acres for these projects would now be an uphill task, said government officials.
“The government will leave it to the industries concerned to deal directly with the land owners. But they are going to face problems as land owners will make irrational demands,” said an official, adding that in many areas, the process of land acquisition may actually come to a halt in anticipation of the bill’s passage in Rajya Sabha, following which it would become an Act.
Sources in the government also expressed apprehension about people resorting to agitation demanding more money for their land in light of the new law even in areas where land for projects had already been acquired.
“This is exactly what happened in Kalinga Nagar when a steel major started setting up its plant there. Though land in the area had been acquired by the government long before the project came up, the same people who had earlier given their land started seeking higher compensation,” said an official.
Revenue minister Surjya Naryana Patro said: “Though over the years we have been able to attract investment worth Rs 7 lakh crore, it will be hard to implement these projects on the ground.”
Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ramesh Mohapatra said: “Setting up industries will not be viable under the provisions of the new bill. Land owners will hike rates, which will make acquisition difficult.”
Trade unionist Mayadhar Nayak argued that land for industries should be given on lease so that the landholders received rent throughout their lives while retaining ownership.