The Union government has tied itself in knots with its much-publicised intent to restrict states from acquiring land for private players and SEZ developers giving rise to fears that such a policy would discourage industrialisation.
There are reservations about the draft R&R policy which gives a partial role to government in land acquisition, allowing it a maximum of 10% if the private players can acquire up to 90%.
The second thoughts on the provision have led the PM to order a review of the policy by a GoM. It comes after business houses mounted pressure, protesting that ‘absolute’ withdrawal of government role would be inimical to industry’s interests. While the government seems to have got the message, it has to reconcile industry’s stake with the scepticism over forcible take-over of land.

Industry apart, it has not found favour with a few ministries which feel the clause would impede the growth of SEZ. While the vacillation is baffling, sources said the hesitation was not out of place as any statute change on the issue may prove difficult. Sources said the minimal role to government in land acquisition has triggered concerns that it would discourage industrialisation as corporates would be at the mercy of landowners. Government, on the other hand, has power to acquire any land for “public purpose’’ and thereby play the supreme facilitator.
The concern marks a Uturn since UPA chose to embark on a “pro-farmer’’ policy of banning government from land appropriation. It was at the PMO’s behest that the R&R draft was revised to include an amendment to the Land Acquisition Act for redefining “public purpose’’. It barred states from buying land for private parties with the 10% caveat.
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