Sunday, 17 August 2014

Tweaking rules for development

Struggling to acquire land to set up the new capital as well as industrial corridors and national institutes, the Andhra Pradesh government is mulling fixing a higher cap on acquisitions by private parties.

Under the new Land Acquisition Act, the Centre gives the authority to the states to decide on the threshold limit for private purchase of land. The Act requires that obligations related to resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) be discharged by the private parties if they are to acquire land above the threshold limit. However, the Act leaves it to the state to decide this limit. Earlier, R&R on private purchases was to apply to all acquisitions above 100 acres in rural areas and 50 acres in urban areas.

According to sources, the AP government is planning to fix the cap at 5,000 acres. Two other states, which have framed their own rules based on the Act, have fixed a lower cap. For instance, Maharashtra has fixed 2,500 acres while Karnataka has fixed a cap of only 500 acres.

The government is likely to finalise the land acquisition rules at the next cabinet meeting scheduled for August 20. Aiming at developing infrastructure under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, sources said the government is planning to ask private parties to first acquire land to the extent possible and then entering into an agreement under the PPP mode with them. "This is because the government is thinking of building institutes like IIT under the PPP model," said an official.

The move is aimed at making development and land acquisition easier as the new Act has imposed several restrictions in the interest of farmers and other land losers. The government is required to undertake a social impact assessment (SIA), which may take up to year. The Act also requires the government to pay heavy compensation to the tune of twice the market value of the property in urban areas plus 100% solatium to ameliorate the pain of forced acquisition. In rural areas, the compensation can be up to four times the market value.

Under section 10 of the Act, states can also fix the percentage of irrigated land that can be acquired. This aspect is also likely to be explored during the cabinet meeting.



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