Earlier this year, the Naveen Patnaik government had withdrawn an amendment Bill with similar provisions in the wake of severe criticism.
The Odisha Legislative Assembly on Wednesday passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Odisha Amendment) Bill (RFCTLAR&R) 2023 enabling the government to exempt ‘strategic and development projects’ from social impact assessment (SIA) and special provisions for safeguarding food security.
The Bill was passed even as the Opposition parties staged a walkout and did not participate in discussions. Earlier this year, the Naveen Patnaik government had withdrawn an amendment Bill with similar provisions in the wake of severe criticism.
In a statement, State Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Sudam Marndi said the mandatory provisions in the RFCTLAR&R Act, 2013 such as Social Impact Assessment (SIA) study and special provision for food security were found to be causing delay in acquisition of land. Lapsing of these provisions were further delaying the project.
“The Odisha government through Make-In-Odisha initiatives intend to attract private investments in mega projects across the sectors to fast-track the process of development of the State. It is needless to mention that providing hassle-free land to the project proponent is one of the basic requirements for industrial and infrastructure developments and acquisition of private land under the RFCTLAR&R Act, 2013 has been a major challenge for the State government,” Mr. Marndi pointed out.
“Therefore, in order to broadbase the industrial ecosystem for faster industrial promotion for employment generation and all-round economic development of the State, a task force was constituted under the chairmanship of the Additional Chief Secretary, Revenue and DM Department to suggest necessary changes in existing land laws and procedures for facilitating smooth transfer of land for the industrial projects. The task force has recommended for amendment of the RFCTLAR&R Act, 2013,” the Minister said.
As per the new provisions, the State government may by notification exempt projects vital to national security or defence of India and every part thereof, including preparation for defence or defence production, infrastructure projects and industrial corridors set up by the State government and its undertakings (in which case the land shall be acquired up to one km on both sides of designated railway line or roads for such industrial corridor) from the SIA and food security provision.
Industrial projects involving displacement of 100 families or less, or acquisition of private land of 500 acres or less also fall in this category. The Minister said similar exemptions had earlier been made by other State governments.