The new Bill on Land Acquisition approved by the Union Cabinet will be a huge setback for industrial growth in Odisha at a time when big ticket investors like Posco and ArcelorMittal are already struggling to procure land for their projects, industry experts said.
According to the new Bill ratified by the Cabinet, industrial projects would need consent of at least 80 per cent of the land losers.
"The new Bill will be a huge setback for industrial growth in Odisha. There is already a big noise on land acquisition for projects proposed by Posco and ArcelorMittal. Should the Bill be passed, land acquisition will become all the more difficult for such projects and the projects will be pushed into further delay”, said Ramesh Mahapatra, president, Utkal Chamber of Commerce & Industry (UCCI).
Besides, the proposed Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill is set to decelerate land procurement for projects taken up on the public private partnership (PPP) mode. The new Bill says for PPP projects, consent of at least 70 per cent of the affected land losers is needed.
"Getting consent of at least 70 per cent of the landowners for PPP projects is too much to ask. After all, PPP projects are taken up for public good and the requirement can be scaled down to 50 per cent”, Mahapatra added.
Land acquisition for industrial projects is done through Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco). P K Jena, chairman and managing director, Idco could not be reached for comments.
Rajdeep Mohanty, resident director, Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL) said, “The new Bill will make land buying difficult for industries. Even those industrial projects, where land has already been acquired but possession has not been handed over, will be hit.”
Mega investment projects have hit the land acquisition wall in Odisha. Faced with an inordinate delay in getting possession of land, Posco India had announced it was ready to start work on an eight million tonne steel mill if it is provided 2700 acres of land.
But the state government, through Idco, has leased out only 548 acres. Moreover, land acquisition activity for the mega steel project, had grounded to a halt since June 2011 due to clash of interest between project supporters and opponents.
ArcelorMittal was yet to get possession of even single acre of land, battling resistance of locals.
PPP projects in the state were also shrouded in delay. According to latest report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) on state finances for the year ended March 31 2012, the Odisha government earmarked 70 projects for implementation under PPP mode during 11th Plan. Of this, only eight projects had been completed, five of which were generating revenue.