Antony opposes govt role in acquisition of land for PPP projects
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While the Rural Development Ministry is trying to suitably amend the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill to allay the apprehensions of investors, Defence Minister A K Antony was learnt to have taken a tough stand against diluting the provisions, at the second meeting of the Group of Ministers, headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday.
As per sources present at the meeting, Antony suggested that government should not play a role in land acquisition for public-private-partnership projects. He was learnt to have proposed that private companies should purchase land directly from the land owners without government help.
Antony was also learnt to have proposed that the legislation should provide for consent of 90 per cent of land owners for acquisition. The current provision requires consent of 80 per cent of land owners. In fact, this clause had received adverse feedback from the industry. Consequently, the Rural Development Ministry had offered to dilute the provision, scaling it down to two-third of land owners.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier referred the Bill to the GoM after several ministers registered their objections, saying the provisions would adversely impact the process of urbanisation and industrialisation. Although Antony was learnt to have made clear on Monday that his suggestions were his "personal opinions", his position holds significance given his stature in the party. However, Pawar on Monday sounded confident about reconciling the differences to allow the Rural Development Ministry to seek Cabinet approval for introducing the amendments in the next session of Parliament.
"Two or three more meetings are needed for finalising the Bill," Pawar told reporters.
The GoM is likely to meet again on October 16.
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