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Land should be bought, not acquired: Jairam Ramesh

Jairam Ramesh, a Rajya Sabha member, was minister for rural development when the land acquisition bill was passed in September 2013. He coauthored a book, Legislating for Justice: The Making of the 2013 Land Acquisition Law, on the journey of the law and its key provisions and the compromises the government had to make to get it passed. He tells ET why the act is meant to deter land acquisitions. Edited excerpts:

On the Modi government’s attempt to amend the act

On whether these state amendments can be legally challenged

We can go to court. But what’s the point? The important thing is it’s not unconstitutional.

On government projects not requiring consent under the act

It was a compromise I had to make to get the bill passed. Ideally, consent should be required even for Government projects. I am not happy with the compromise. Governments have been the most guilty when it comes to land acquisition over the past 50-60 years. Their track record on land acquisition is pathetic.

On the government acquiring land under the 13 old laws exempted from the 2013 act

The 2013 law has become a template now. As it is seen to be a progressive law, nobody wants to abandon it in toto, but they play around with consent and SIA for government projects.

On why the act is meant to discourage land acquisition

Land should not be acquired, land should be bought. The transaction should be bilateral between those who want the land and those who have the land. Land acquisition, which is different from land purchase, should be under the rarest of rare circumstances. In fact, over a 10-15-year period, we should move to a situation where governments don¡¦t acquire land even for their own use, they should buy the land. Why should the government acquire land for Reliance? In the interim, because of the state of our land records, because of the asymmetry between demand and supply, given that land markets are imperfect, we need a land acquisition law.

via ET

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Land should be bought, not acquired: Jairam Ramesh


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