After opposing the proposed Constitutional amendment for implementation of a national Goods and Service Tax, the government of Madhya Pradesh has strongly opposed the proposed Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill on similar lines.
As with the GST Bill, it says this would be a breach of the federal structure, a serious encroachment on states’ powers. A list of objections and suggestions has been given to the central government.
“The state has (at present) all legislative powers on land, that is to say, rights in or over land, land tenures, including the relation of landlord and tenant, and the collection of rents; transfer and alienation of agricultural land; land improvement and agricultural loans; colonisation. The proposed Bill is...plainly an encroachment on state powers,” a well-placed government source told Business Standard.
The state government says this is a the latest in a series of such inroads on states’ rights. “They have excluded 16 Union laws (from challenge) by incorporating them in the fourth schedule that also include the Special Economic Zone legislation,” the source added. Earlier, the government here had objected to similar legislation on the National Highways Act, the Coal Bearing Areas Act and the Metro Railways Act.
The state has also opposed the procedure of land acquisition in the proposed Bill, as a “time consuming process and expensive”. In all, its objections run into almost 14 pages, covering almost all parts of the Bill.
The state committee that submitted its views on the Bill have also suggested on certain clauses of the Bill. That apart, it has made suggestions on rewording some clauses, as in the reasons permitted for acquiring land; it has suggested adding some, such as for drinking water projects.
As for rehabilitation and resettlement in cases where a private company asks for acquisition to further a public purpose, the state says the Bill’s provisions are likely to trigger price rises in towns. And, that there is a lack of attention to the role of local bodies here.
It has also objected to the ‘land for land’ provisions, saying this and some other clauses on rehabilitation may not be practical all the time.