New Delhi: Stakeholders should benefit when land is acquired by the government to build infrastructure, road transport and highways minister Kamal Nath said on Friday.
The minister was speaking at the launch of a report titled India Infrastructure Report 2009 that focuses on land acquisition issues and ways to address gaps in the legal and policy framework governing land in India.
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Citing the example of highway developers, the report said concessionaires were affected because land acquisition could only start after the agreement was signed and then the developer would have to acquire the land and build the road within a specified time-frame.
“Under the (National Highway) Act, the NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) has the option of appointing its own manager as the competent authority but invariably relies on district administration for the purpose because the revenue department has access to land records,” the report said.
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India is governed by archaic land acquisition laws that were framed by the British in 1894. The legislation was amended in 1962 to allow the government acquire land citing public purpose.
Speaking on a draft legislation on rehabilitation and resettlement, Nath said the Bill has already been through consultations with a group of ministers and would be introduced in Parliament soon.
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“The original version of this bill dates back to 1894 and hasn’t been substantively revised since then. We’re in the 21st century. Yet the basis for land acquisition still relies on a piece of legislation that is more than a century old,” Infrastructure Development Finance Co. chairman and managing director Rajiv B. Lall said at a panel discussion ahead of the launch of the report.
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The draft legislation is opposed by the Congress party ally and railway minister Mamata Banerjee. On Thursday, when the Bill came up for cabinet approval, Banerjee said the government should not acquire land for private companies, a minister who attended the meeting said.
Liz Mathew contributed to this story.