14 September 2015 12:13:31 IST

Land acquisition: ‘No State has complained about compensation’

NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman says States have chosen to go further

Compensation has been a critical issue, besides social impact assessment in the entire land acquisition debate. Arvind Panagariya, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog, spoke to BusinessLine on raising the issue of Land Act 2013 with States in this context and that of acquiring rural and urban land parcels. Edited excerpts:

Compensation has been another critical issue, besides social impact assessment. Have you, in the recent meeting with the States, dealt with this? If yes, how far were the States willing to accommodate? Does the Land Act of 2013 set a floor on compensation? (Maharashtra reportedly had decided to give four times more compensation than the land as per the ready reckoner rate for acquiring land in urban areas, while land owners in rural areas would get five times more.)

To my knowledge, no State has complained about the compensation in the 2013 Act as being excessive. As you mention, some States have chosen to go farther.

What are the key differences in land acquisitions being done in rural areas versus urban areas? Is the issue of leasing being treated differently?

Land leasing and land purchase transactions are fundamentally different from land acquisition. The former requires consent while the latter generally does not. The 2013 Act in India is in fact unique in introducing consent requirement for land acquisition for PPP and private projects regardless of the public good that they may do. Differences between rural and urban areas in the 2013 Act relate to compensation.

Do you think extending the benefits of the Land Act to 13 other laws pertaining to railways, highways, and other such projects through an executive order will be acceptable to the opponents of amendments?

What the executive order does is to apply the compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) provisions of the 2013 Act to the 13 laws. There is no disagreement on this matter including among the opponents of the Ordinance.

When Niti Aayog was constituted it was announced that it will work on the concept of giving more powers to States. Do you think the recent developments on Land Law are in line with this?

In the interest of speed, the government had sought to amend the law Centrally instead of one State at a time. But the Opposition parties have scuttled the process and so the alternative track of amendments by States must be pursued. Fortuitously, this alternative turns out to be in conformity of the Prime Minister’s emphasis on cooperative, competitive federalism.