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States seek changes to land law

New Delhi, June 27 (PTI): Most of the states today complained that the new land acquisition act was hobbling infrastructure projects and demanded “drastic changes” to certain clauses in the farmer-friendly law.

They objected to the need to obtain consent from 70 per cent of the landowners in the case of public-private partnership projects and that from 80 per cent of the owners while acquiring land for private companies.

A meeting of state revenue ministers here also witnessed opposition to the requirement for a social impact assessment study before any land acquisition.

Such studies were “time-consuming” and led to “cost escalation in small projects”, they said.

“We have taken note of the issues raised by the states and will prepare a report that will be submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 10 days,” Union rural development minister Nitin Gadkari, who chaired the meeting, told reporters.

But he stressed the government’s commitment to protecting farmers’ interests, ruling out any “compromise” on the issues of “compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement”.

Among the states critical of the law — passed during UPA rule — were Congress-ruled Karnataka, Haryana and Kerala as well as Jayalalithaa’s Tamil Nadu, Samajwadi-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Biju Janata Dal-ruled Odisha, sources said.