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Karnataka differs with Centre on Bill

Mahesh Kulkarni  |  Bangalore 

The Karnataka government, which is in the thick of controversy over acquisition of land for several big-ticket investors, is in no mood to accept certain changes proposed in the new Land Acquisition and Resettlement & Rehabilitation Bill tabled in Parliament last week.

Instead, the government is in the process of revamping its existing land acquisition policy. The state government is not agreeable to the 80 per cent consent norm proposed in the new Bill. It wants to settle for 70 per cent consent of farmers to acquire any land.

“We will wait for the Centre to pass the new Act in Parliament. Once it comes through, we will incorporate the best clauses from it and revamp our state Acts,” said Higher Education Minister V S Acharya, also the seniormost member of the state cabinet.

However, the state government has not given its comments to the Centre on the draft Bill circulated to the states about few months ago due to shortage of time, a revenue department official said.

“Giving four times the market value to the land losers is difficult. We can think of giving four times the value of sub-registrar’s guidance value, which is normally far below the market rate. The state government is already giving double the guidance value for many projects in the recent days,” Minister for Large and Medium Industries Murugesh R Nirani said.

Following the global investors’ meet last year, the government has offered 9,600 sq ft of developed plot per acre to those who do not want to take cash compensation. It has also offered reservation in the admission to ITI colleges for the children of landlosers and one job a family in the industrial projects coming up in the state, Nirani said.

In Karnataka, the land is acquired by three agencies for various purposes. For industrial use, the land is acquired by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board, which is governed under the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Act of 1966. The Bangalore Development Authority acquires land for residential purposes in Bangalore and other urban development authorities at the district level. For other public purposes like infrastructure projects such as railways, roads and public buildings, the revenue department acquires land under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.

Last year, farmers had opposed acquisition of land in Bellary for a minor airport and a steel plant by ArcelorMittal. There was also opposition for acquiring land for a steel plant by Tata Metaliks in Haveri district and a thermal power plant by NTPC in Bijapur district.

Sections of industry have expressed mixed reactions over the proposed land Bill.

“With increasing pace of development, availability of land is going to be a major challenge. In the context of inclusive growth, a well-defined R&R policy is also a necessary requirement for helping the people who are displaced. We welcome the initiative to introduce a comprehensive “National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011,” said J R Bangera, president, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FKCCI).

FKCCI has also welcomed the move allowing private companies to buy equal to or more than 100 hectares.

Vinod Nowal, president of the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said the land given for industry or commercial purpose should be developed in a planned manner keeping the environment, ecology and society in a healthy state.

H V Harish, partner in audit firm Grant Thornton, has called for a proper mechanism to acquire land and compensate farmers in a fair manner. “The Bill says 80 per cent consent is required. It is not clear whether this is 80 per cent of the owners or 80 per cent of the land that is being acquired. If it is the former, it will create needless hurdles,” he added.

Anand Desai, a farmers’ leader from Gadag district who had opposed acquisition of land for a steel plant by Posco, said the government should not acquire fertile land for industrial purpose.

“A farmer holds the first right to his land.

He should not be displaced from his land, which is passed on to him from generations, at the cost of industrial development.”

'Whiel the National Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill 2011 tries to fill in the gaps in the process of land acquisition, there is a greater need for making the default clauses stringent. Given the lopsided nature of relationship between the parties interested in acquiring the land and those who want to sell the land (farming community) there needs to be a greater provision for protection benefit for the interest of the farming community, Ajay Kakra, Associate Director, Agri & Natural Resources - Government Reforms and Infrastructure Development, PwC India said.

He said the reaction of the state governments is favourable to the bill. Some state governments like Kerela and Noida have already passed the draft bill. However, there is a strong resistance from farmer organisations. Even in the state of Karnataka the farmer organisations such as Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) are strongly against the implementation of Land Acquisition bill particularly on the rehabilitation issue,” he said.

Having a high announced rate at 4 times in rural and 2 times in urban and seeking industry to do a R and R seems like adding substantially to cost of building industry. The definition of projects that do not need public consent should include transportation projects (airports, roads, metros) and other key infrastructure projects also, Harish added.

Till date, KIADB has formed 132 industrial areas spread all over the state and acquired land for nearly 400 Single Unit Complexes ensuring balanced industrial development in all regions with well thought of infrastructures and unique features. This apart, KIADB has envisaged several innovative projects like Agro-tech Parks, Apparel Parks, Food Parks, Auto Parks, Hardware Park, Bio-Tech Park, EPIPs, Sector Specific SEZs, Growth Centres among others.

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First Published: Mon, September 12 2011. 00:02 IST