India Inc must be "sensitive" to larger social issues that will be addressed in the new Land Acquisition Bill, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday, adding it cannot "blindly expect" the country to become a Singapore.
Ramesh, the Rural Development Minister, said the industry's concerns over the landmark legislation are borne out of "misreading" of the bill and its "very narrow" perspective of development.
"Industry should also be sensitive to larger social issues and concerns. They should not blindly expect that India will be another Singapore and India will be another China. India is India, we have our own peculiar challenges and circumstances. You have to deal with it," he told PTI.
Ramesh said the concerns of the industry are legitimate, but are largely "exaggerated and overblown".
"I don't think that financial cost of acquisition will go up. The land conflicts associated with the acquisition, particularly in Maoist-affected areas, will reduce," he said.
Ramesh said any law that protects the interests of farmers and tribals is necessarily in the national interest.
Seeking to assuage the concerns expressed by the industry over the newly enacted legislation, Ramesh said, "This is a Land Acquisition Bill, not Land Purchase Bill.
If a builder wants to purchase land, he can go and purchase land. If industry wants to go and buy the land, he can buy the land. The law is applicable when the industry uses the government to acquire land for them, he said.
The industry has voiced fears that the Bill will push up land costs, hit project timelines and escalate cost estimates.
Asked about apprehensions raised by NC Saxena, a member of the Sonia Gandhi-headed National Advisory Council, over the bill, the Minister rejected his argument that the law will make more powerful the District Collector in land acquisition process.
"What he has said is absolutely wrong. Actually it is completely opposite," Ramesh said and wondered why the retired bureaucrat, who was part of framing the law from the very beginning, is now opposing it.
"It is not the Collector. The Act defines what is public purpose, what is compensation, what is urgency clause and what is Rehabilitation and Resettlement," he said.
Taking a dig at Saxena, Ramesh said, "Sometimes, civil servants, after retirement, automatically become enlightened."
"The most enlightened civil servant is the most recently retired civil servant. After the period of retirement, something happens to the enlightened civil servants and they go back to the original state," he said.