The Odisha government has tabled a bill in the assembly on March 23rd to do away with the practice of holding Social impact assessments before acquiring land for various projects, including those “vital to national security”, as per the Centre’s guidelines.
Odisha is not the first state to introduce such amendments in the central Act. Telangana, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand have also amended the provisions of the central Act to exempt developmental projects from the purview of SIA and public hearing.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Odisha Amendment) Bill 2023 seeks to amend the Centre’s Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, whose section 4 mandates the conduct of SIA before the process of land acquisition.
Introducing the bill in the Odisha Assembly, the state Revenue Minister Pramilla Mallick said the state government, through the Make in Odisha initiatives, intends to attract private investment in mega projects across sectors and subsequently fast track the process of development.
Providing land to the project proponent in a hassle free way is one of the basic requirements of industrial and infrastructure development and acquisition of private land under the central law has remained a major challenge for the state government.
To broad base the industrial ecosystem for faster industrial promotion for employment generation and all-round economic development of the state, a taskforce was constituted under the chairmanship of additional chief secretary revenue and disaster management department to suggest necessary changes in existing land laws and procedures for facilitating smooth transfer of land for the industrial projects,” Mallick said.
Mr.Mallick said the proposed amendment of the state government would do away with application of two chapters in the Central Act – social impact assessment and bar in acquiring irrigated multi-cropped land – for projects vital to national security or defense of the country, infrastructure projects, including educational institutions, health infrastructure, government offices, electrification, irrigation projects and drinking water projects, affordable housing and housing for poor people, industrial corridors set up by the state government and its undertakings and all linear projects, like state highways and national highways.