Par panel for stringent land acquisition rules

New Delhi: The norms for land acquisition will be more stringent if government accepts recommendations of a parliamentary committee on the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development, which adopted its report on Wednesday on the key bill, has recommended that the definition of public purpose should be more stringent so that it cannot be used to acquire land for making profit, official sources said.

In another key recommendation, it has said that fertile land being used for agriculture should not be permitted to be acquired for Public Private Partnership projects.

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was the major force behind the bill. He had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the issue in the past, while Congress President Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) had also made some vital recommendations that have been incorporated in the new draft bill.

The panel headed by BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan has said that the government should not acquire any land for profit purpose.

The recommendations are likely to invite criticism from the industry, which has been in the favour of the expanding the definition of public purpose so that land could be acquired not only for infrastructure or defence purposes but also for industrial, commercial or institutional purposes, creating wealth and employment.

The panel has also recommended that land being acquired for any purpose should be meeting the conditions prescribed in the current legislation, which means doing away with the exemptions granted to land acquisition under 16 earlier Acts listed in the Fourth schedule.

The committee felt that the exemptions should not be allowed as most of the land acquisition takes place in the mining, power and other infrastructure sectors for which land have been required so far under one or the other of these 16 legislations, the sources said.