|Jairam Ramesh addresses the CII National Council meet in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Oct. 4: The Centre is likely to dilute a provision in the land acquisition law that requires plots unused for five years since being taken over to be returned to the state land bank or the original owners.
Hopes about such a move, seen as a big concession to industry, rose today when rural development minister Jairam Ramesh hinted at “flexible rules” under the new law in an attempt to assuage the fears of business.
Ramesh was speaking at an interaction with members of business chamber CII where Tata Steel vice-chairman B. Muthuraman expressed concerns over the land-return provision in the law.
“Large projects come in phases. The land acquired for the project may not be used fully in the first phase. Return of land to the land bank or original owner will not make expansion of the project possible,” Muthuraman said.
Under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act — passed in Parliament’s monsoon session that concluded last month — land remaining unused till five years from the acquisition must be returned to the land-owners or the state’s land bank.
Ramesh said his ministry was currently framing rules under the act and the concern may be addressed by inserting a special provision.
“In the rules, we can have provisions specifying circumstances where the return of land norms is non-negotiable and cases where it should be flexible,” Ramesh said.
The law has already got the President’s assent. It may be notified in January or April next year, Ramesh said.
The minister indicated that it takes several years for a project to get environmental clearance from the Centre. If the land has been acquired without such clearance, the project should not suffer because of the delay in getting the nod, he said.
The CII members raised some other concerns too, including fears that procedures under the new law would delay projects. Ramesh pointed out that the entire acquisition process, including social impact assessment and compensation payment, would take around three years.