New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday came out against criticism of the amendments to the land acquisition act, made through an ordinance, saying they "balance the developmental needs of India, particularly rural India" and provides enhanced compensation to the land-owners.
In a Facebook posting, titled "Amendments to the Land Acquisition Law - The Real Picture", he said that the 2013 Act had "over 50 drafting errors" and the "provision" in the ordinance with regard to rectification of errors "will be used to cure most of them.
"Some are being cured through this ordinance which alters the earlier mandate of the 2013 law that unused land has to be returned five years after the acquisition. The earlier provision was clearly defective".
"Creation of smart cities, townships, industrial corridors, business centres, defence projects, cantonments, ports, nuclear installations, building of highways, irrigation projects, dams have a long gestations period. They cannot be completed in five years. If the earlier provision is to be effected, we would be a nation of incomplete projects on account of defective legislative drafting," he said.
Countering criticism of the acquired land to be also given to developers, he said that the draft provisions of the 2013 Act enthusiastically provide that no part of an acquired land could be used for a private educational institution or a hospital.
"How will new smart cities and townships come up? Will they only have a civil hospital and a government school/college and no other healthcare and educational institutions will be allowed to be established there? The ordinance permits hospitals and educational institutions to be established on an acquired land. That is the purpose of acquisition for townships. A township without a social infrastructure would be inherently incomplete."
Jaitley said the needs of "a modern growing and developing India need a balanced approach" where "development and justice to the land-owner must coexist. One cannot be done at the cost of the other".
According to him, the amendment ordinance "is based on extensive consultations where state government of most political parties supported these changes. Those who are opposed to it can certainly mandate their party's state governments not to use the provisions of the ordinance. History will judge how these states will lose out in the era of competitive federalism.
On Dec 31, the government promulgated an ordinance to amend provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013.