By ET Bureau | 28 Apr, 2015, 06.50AM IST

Can’t blame UPA Land Acquisition Bill for stalled projects: RTI

NEW DELHI: The land acquisition law passed by the previous government may not be the villain of the piece when it comes to stalled projects, according to data generated by a Right to Information (RTI) query.

The Modi government's determination to amend the land acquisition law in the teeth of resistance from farmers and political parties has stemmed from the legislation's apparent role in just this — bringing projects across the country to a standstill.

But it appears that only 8% of them have been stalled due to land acquisition problems, according to data received from the finance ministry under the RTI Act. The main reason is unfavourable market conditions followed by lack of non-environmental clearances and a dwindling promoter interest.

The data, accessed by RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak, showed 804 stalled projects in February. An analysis of the 33-page list shows that lack of funds is the number four reason and land acquisition the fifth for projects halting.

Of the 66 projects stalled over land acquisition, none of them are specifically for the underprivileged or the weaker sections of society. Of the full list of 804, only 11 are targeted projects, including five related to slum rehabilitation, two for budget homes or low-cost housing, one to build residences for indigenous groups and one is an old-age home. The number of luxury projects stalled is 145.

These include hotels and restaurants (75), shopping malls (28), multiplexes (five), golf courses (two) and a racing track. The most projects stalled are in Maharashtra (125) and Gujarat (63), followed by Bengal (55), Karnataka (52) and Telangana (52).

The government's amendment seeks to scrap the consent clause for acquiring land for five sectors — industrial corridors, public private partnership projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence. The bill also exempts projects in these five areas from social impact assessments and allows the purchase of irrigated multi-cropped land and other types of agricultural land.

The 15 states that have the most stalled projects include nine of the 10 Schedule V states, which have a sizeable tribal population.

"This underlines the importance of the consent clause," Nayak said. Almost 78% of the projects are privately owned while 22% are with central or state governments. The Economic Survey for 2014-15 had said stalled projects had been "increasing at an alarmingly high rate in the last five years, and the rate is much higher in the private sector".

By ET Bureau | 28 Apr, 2015, 06.50AM IST