Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has slammed opponents of his government’s plan to amend the country’s Land Acquisition Bill, claiming they are gaining a “Sadistic Thrill” out of opposing changes that are seen as critical to India’s economic growth.
In an impassioned speech to the UK India Business Council in London this week, Mr Jaitley said there was a “raging ideological battle” between “reform and obstruction” in India and laid out the case for a Bill that forms a key part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s economic reforms.
India’s poor infrastructure is widely considered one of the main impediments to economic growth and Mr Modi wants to make it easier to acquire land to pave the way for roads, mines and more than $300 billion worth of other projects.
The proposed changes mean projects in defence, rural electricity generation, rural housing and industrial corridors would not need to seek the consent of 80 percent of the affected landowners as mandated.
They will also be exempt from holding a social impact study involving public hearings – procedures that industry executives say can drag out the acquisition process for years.
Compensation to landholders will remain at four times the market price.
However, opponents continue to demand “fair compensation”, particularly for farmers who lose their land as well as more transparency in the acquisition process.