Government to amend land act, even without consensus: Jaitley

New Delhi : The government will make amendments to the Land Acquisition Act even if the opposition does not support them, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday said.

“Some changes may be necessary. We will first try to reach a consensus and if that is not possible we will go ahead and take the decision,” he said referring to the land act.

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The obstacles to the land acquisition laws will have to be first removed in order to implement the concept of smart cities in India, he added. He was speaking at the India Global Forum conference organised here by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Many states have criticised the new Land Acquisition Act, saying it has hurt the process of acquiring land for infrastructure projects.

The finance minister had in his maiden budget proposed allocation of Rs.7,060 crore during this financial year for developing 100 smart cities in the country.

Earlier in the week, Jaitley had said the government is considering changes to some “illogical provisions” of the new law.

“There are some illogical provisions like land cannot be used or acquired under this law for private educational institutions, private hospitals and hotels. There are some factors in it, which certainly require a relook,” Jaitley said at a conference here.

“By this, a new capital of Andhra Pradesh, or the 100 smart cities proposed cannot have private universities and schools, private hospitals or hotels,” he had added.

Speaking at a question-and-answer session at the conference with foreign participants, Jaitley said the new law lays down extremely complicated procedures, making it almost impossible to acquire land.

The act now makes it mandatory to take the consent of 80 percent of the people whose land is to be taken for private projects. In the case of public-private-partnership projects, the consent of 70 percent of people is required.

“As defence minister, I face difficulties every day, even defence is not exempt,” Jaitley had said.

Important infrastructure projects like industrial corridors and housing, especially for the poor, were being held up by such illogicalities in the law, he said.