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Centre preparing to bring 'urgency clause' to acquire land for metro projects

The government is preparing to bring in an “urgency clause” to acquire land for metro rail projects as land acquisition has become a major problem, delaying several ventures across the country.

The clause will allow the government to acquire land after a 30-day public notice and no consent of property owner or social impact assessment of the project is required.

The Union urban development ministry proposed this provision in the draft metro rail bill, 2016, in a push to put stuck projects back on track.

However, the 2013 law on land acquisition states that the urgency clause could be used only for cases linked to the military, national security, natural calamities or any other emergency with Parliament’s approval. Metro projects don’t come under the emergency ambit.

States used to use the clause for metro projects through a British-era land law that was amended in 2013. Some states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra invoked their own, specific laws.

The existing Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978, provides for an urgency clause but the law was so cumbersome that no state has ever used it.

“After the 2013 law, states faced a lot of difficulty in acquiring land. In urban areas, nobody wants to give away their land. In Delhi, for instance, the metro rail corporation faced public protest. Long negotiations with land owners delayed projects,” a government official said.

The compensation amount for the land will adhere to provisions in the 2013 act.

The proposal, once approved, will benefit cities such as Kochi, Jaipur, Pune, Ahmedabad, Lucknow where metro networks are being built.

Source: HindustanTimes