New Delhi: The NDA government will permit states to make amendments to the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday. In an article on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s website, Jaitely said he was of the opinion that the 2013 Act “is a badly drafted legislation” with a “lot of ambiguities and obvious errors” which need to be corrected. He said the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had made changes to the 2013 Act on the suggestion of state governments but Congress changed its position and opposed the ordinance first issued in December last year for “political reasons”.
He said the ordinance brought by the NDA government lapsed on Monday and questions were being raised about the nature and future of land acquisition in India. Referring to the prime minster’s meeting with chief ministers in Niti Aayog on the land bill, Jaitley said the state governments could decide on exemptions from consent and social impact assessment in any of the five areas including projects for national security, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects where land ownership is with government. The Modi government in its new land bill had provided for these exemptions but the BJP subsequently changed its position in the joint parliamentary committee which is examining the bill. Congress chief ministers had boycotted the Niti Aayog meeting on land bill with the party making it clear that it was opposed to changes to the 2013 Act which was passed during the rule of United Progressive Alliance government.
Jaitley said that objective of 2015 ordinance was to give certain flexibility to the states.”That flexibility is made available to the states even now under the decision taken in chief minister’s meeting,” he said. Jaitley said that the present position was that “the 2013 Act occupies the field”. “The bill remains for consideration of the standing committee and if some consensus suggestions are made, the same would be implemented. If any state wishes to make some amendments in the central law, the same would be permitted by the central government,” Jaitley said.