The National Advisory Council's divergent recommendations on acquisition of land by the government has split industry down the middle.
In statements that leave no room for reconciliation of the differences, the two leading industry chambers, FICCI and CII spelt out their respective positions. While CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee said the government could not relieve itself of the responsibility in land acquisition for industry, FICCIsecretary general Rajiv Kumar welcomed the Mayawati government's hands-off policy, saying it supported market-based land acquisition which would be transparent and more favourable for farmers.
The UP government, seems to prefer passing the onus of land acquisition to the private sector.
According to commentators, if the strong language used by the chambers to press their position is any indication, the chances of the proposed Land Acquisition (amendment) Bill being passed in the monsoon session would be remote.
Both public and private sector industry in India desperately needs land to expand, but given the confusion prevailing over the issue across the country in different states many expansion plans are on hold.
There can be no gainsaying as regards adequate compensation for farmers, most of whom own small plots of land in a densely populated country. According to census data there are 127 million farmers with land holdings in India, but 82 per cent of those are of less than 2 hectares each. However even they are the privileged lot and the percentage of Indians defined as agricultural workers is 234 million, (almost 23 per cent of the total Indian population). Acquisition of land in such circumstances can be a difficult process.