New Delhi, Oct. 16: The Centre has identified 467 lakh hectares of wasteland across the country that could be given preference in acquisition for projects.
Earmarking such patches, done on a district-wise wasteland map brought out by the rural development ministry yesterday, will help states avoid acquisition of multi-crop land.
India has around 3,166 lakh hectares of wasteland, the ministry has concluded on the basis of satellite data that helped draw up the map.
Rajasthan has the highest with 85 lakh hectares, followed by Jammu and Kashmir with 75 lakh hectares and Maharashtra with 40 lakh hectares.
Densely populated Bengal has 1.93 lakh hectares — just over 2 per cent of its total area of 88.75 lakh hectares.
The other states with significant swathes of wasteland are Andhra and Himachal (38 lakh hectares each), Gujarat (22 lakh hectares) and Odisha (20 lakh hectares).
The new land acquisition law — Right To Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act — passed by Parliament in the recent monsoon session restricts acquisition of multi-crop land beyond a threshold.
The limit has to be decided by state governments. But the law provides for acquisition of multi-crop land for linear projects like railway tracks and power transmission lines.
Many parties, including Trinamul, oppose acquisition of multi-crop land, a point rural development minister Jairam Ramesh stressed yesterday.
“The wasteland map will help states identify areas which can be given preference during acquisitions,” Ramesh said.
The wastelands have been classified into 23 categories including deserts, snow-capped mountains and hilly terrain.
Ramesh said the new land law would come into effect from January 1, 2014. His ministry on Monday readied draft rules under the act.