By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: December 29, 2014 5:29 pm | Updated: December 30, 2014 8:58 am

In a bid to ease the process of acquiring land, the Union Cabinet on Monday recommended the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Land Acquisiton Act, 2013, by including five new categories of projects that would not require prior consent from affected families as well as Social Impact Assessment (SIA). These include projects related to defence, rural infrastructure and industrial corridors.

The sensitive provisions relating to compensation, relief and rehabilitation have been left untouched. The amendment also includes 13 legislation that are currently exempted under the purview of the Act in the compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement provisions.

The Indian Express had reported last week that the rural development ministry had been directed to get the draft ordinance vetted by the law ministry so that it could be cleared by the Cabinet this week.

Announcing the decision, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “In a nutshell, we have tried to achieve a balance… higher compensation will continue… procedural rigours would be loosened or eased in relation to the five defined purposes.” When the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, was brought in last year by the previous UPA government, it was touted as a landmark legislation. But the Act has been criticised by the industry and certain other sections for making land acquisition more complicated and tedious. The NDA government has amended Section 10(A) of the Act to expand the list of projects that would not require SIA and prior consent of affected families. These include projects for defence and defence production, rural infrastructure including rural electrification, affordable housing and housing for the poor, industrial corridors as well as infrastructure and social infrastructure projects including public private partnership projects wherein the ownership continues to vest with the government. No other changes have been made to the consent and SIA requirements, except in the case of these five categories. Under the Act, prior consent is required from 70 per cent of the affected families if land is being acquired for PPP projects and from 80 per cent in case of private companies. SIA is mandatory and has to be completed within six months. “… It has been reported that many difficulties are being faced in its implementation. In order to remove them, certain amendments have been made in the Act to further strengthen the provisions to protect the interests of the ‘affected families’. In addition, procedural difficulties in the acquisition of lands required for important national projects required to be mitigated…..Proposed amendments meet the twin objectives of farmer welfare, along with expeditiously meeting the strategic and developmental needs of the country,” said a government release. It also claimed that certain provisions prolong the procedure for land acquisition, and “neither the farmer is able to get benefit nor is the project completed in time for the benefit of society at large.”


Explaining the urgency to bring in an ordinance, Jaitley said the government had to amend the Act before the end of the year since Section 105 of the Act, which provides for excluding 13 central legislation, would otherwise have to be notified by December 31. The 13 legislation included Land Acquisition (Mines) Act 1885, Atomic Energy Act, 1962, Railway Act 1989, National Highways Act 1956 and Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978. Jaitley said the higher compensation and R&R package would apply to the 13 exempted legislation as well. “With regard to the process of land acquisition, the priority of the government was that the interest of farmer whose land is to be acquired is paramount,” Jaitley said. Currently, the Act also contains an urgency clause — related to natural disasters and wars — where the acquisition of land is exempted from the stringent requirements laid down in the legislation. The NDA government began the process of easing the Act soon after it came to power in May this year. In July the ministry had sent a report to the PMO based on inputs received from states suggesting changes to the Act which would make it more industry-friendly, including doing away with the consent clause for PPP projects, removing the requirement for mandatory SIA study and relaxing the retrospective clause. However, the BJP’s push to amend the Act has come despite its full support to the Bill in Parliament in 2013, after its suggestions were accepted. The Bill was brought to Parliament after the then UPA government held consultations with opposition parties and the BJP’s two key suggestions were accepted, following which the party extended its support.

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DDA is ready to give the Capital its own financial district, on the lines of the famed Nariman Point in Mumbai.

The 25 acre, financial hub will come up in Dwarka sector 10 the  in the next few years. The land will be exclusively sold or leased out to banks, financial institutions and stock exchanges.

“DDA will provide all required facilities for this financial hub so that it compares to Mumbai or is even better,” DDA vice chairman Balvinder Kumar told HT, adding that DDA hopes to attract foreign financial institutions too.

“We plan to create the hub on the pattern of a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) with a financial bounded area. This will allow offshore financial institutions to come here,” added Kumar.

Kumar said the DDA has written to the commerce ministry and the department of financial services for permits to establish the hub.

“Delhi is known as the political power centre of India and Mumbai its financial capital. We are trying to create a financial hub in Delhi comparable to Mumbai, if not more important,” said a senior DDA official.

The hub is part of a larger plan under the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) along the Delhi Metro corridor, with an expected area of nearly 200 acres. A similar TOD corridor is coming up in east Delhi’s Karkardooma, which will boast a 120-storey commercial tower.





NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Wednesday approved Modi government’s two flagship schemes – 100 smart cities and urban rejuvenation programme for 500 towns and cities. The idea is to recast the urban landscape and to make such areas more livable and inclusive, besides driving economic growth.

Work is to be undertaken for smaller cities and towns with one lakh or more population under a new scheme named after former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee – Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Centre will spend Rs 50,000 crore for this scheme. This will be the new scheme in place of JNNURM named after India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru during UPA rule.

Under the smart cities scheme each city selected through a “city challenge” competition would get central assistance of Rs 100 crore per year for five years. To begin about 20 cities would be selected after the state governments come forward with names of cities they want nominated.

A ministry spokesperson said that the criteria for competition would be finalized soon and these will be linked to financing with the ability of the cities to perform and achieve mission objectives. According to an official release, the smart cities mission intends to promote adoption of smart solutions for efficient use of available assets, resources and infrastructure with the objective of enhancing the quality of urban life and providing a clean and sustainable environment.

There will be special focus on adequate and clean water supply, sanitation and solid waste management, efficient transportation, affordable housing for the poor, power supply, robust IT connectivity, e-governance, safety and security of citizens, health and education.

There will be special emphasis on citizens’ participation in prioritizing and planning urban interventions. “It will be implemented through ‘area based’ approach consisting of retrofitting, redevelopment, pan-city initiatives and development of new cities. Under retrofitting, deficiencies in an identified area will be addressed through necessary interventions as in the case of local area plan for downtown Ahmedabad. Redevelopment enables reconstruction of already built-up area that is not amenable for any interventions, to make it smart, as in the case of Bhendi Bazar of Mumbai and West Kidwai Nagar in Delhi,” the official statement said.

Pan-city components could be interventions like intelligent transport solutions to benefit all citizens by reducing commuting time.

“The two missions are interlinked,” a ministry official said.

AMRUT will focus on ensuring basic infrastructure services such as water supply, sewerage, storm water drains, transport and development of green spaces and parks with special provision for meeting the needs of children. Implementation of this mission will be linked to promotion of urban reforms such as e-governance, setting up of professional municipal cadre, devolving funds and functions to urban local bodies, review of building bye-laws, improvement in assessment and collection of municipal taxes, credit rating of urban local bodies, energy and water audit and citizen-centric urban planning.

Central assistance will be to the extent of 50% of project cost for cities and towns with population of up to 10 lakh and one-third of the project cost for those with a population of above 10 lakh. Central assistance will be released in three instalments in the ratio of 20:40:40 based on achievement of milestones indicated in state annual action plans. “AMRUT seeks to lay a foundation to enable cities and towns to eventually grow into smart cities,” the official said.

The scheme will also cover JNNURM projects sanctioned during 2005 -2012 and which have achieved physical progress of 50% availing 50% of central assistance released by the government. Accordingly, 102 and 296 projects respectively will get central support for balance funding to complete these projects.

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Under Area-Based Development, Connaught Place and its extended region will get proirity. Under Pan-NDMC, smart features and citizen-friendly services will be introduced everywhere.

Delhi smart-cityAfter spending Rs 671 crore and 10 long years on redeveloping Connaught Place, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will utilise the ‘Smart City’ fund to improve it further. As part of its dossier submitted to the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), NDMC has proposed to upgrade the ‘550-acre Connaught Place and extended CP area’. This is called the ‘Area-Based Development’, or ABD, programme. Under its two-pronged approach, the rest of its area will be ‘smartened’ under the ‘Pan-NDMC’ programme.

Under ABD, CP and its extended region will get proirity. Under Pan-NDMC, smart features and citizen-friendly services will be introduced everywhere. This includes ‘smart electricity poles’, video surveillance, Wi-Fi, interactive education in NDMC schools, hi-tech hospitals and toilets, automated parking, etc.

Lutyen’s Delhi is one of India’s 20 ‘smart cities’ to be developed under the Centre’s flagship scheme. It figured at rank 12 in the list released by Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday. NDMC will be the executing agency and will soon receive Rs 200 crore, the programme’s first instalment. NDMC chairperson Naresh Kumar has already listed a slew of plans – 3D digital mapping, solar city project, waste-to-energy plants, intelligent urban mobility, etc, – to make it “world-class”.

Though NDMC governs just 43.7 square km – about 3 per cent of the National Capital Territory – it houses vital installations like the Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, Supreme Court and various foreign diplomatic missions. The government is nearly the sole landowner in the NDMC area and proprietor of about 80 per cent of the buildings. Its upkeep reflects on the nation’s image, a factor that may have frontlisted it in the prestigious race for India’s first 20 ‘smart cities’.

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The decision was taken at NDMC’s Council meeting on April 26, presided over by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has set the ball rolling for the creation of a parallel company to execute all the projects under Smart Cities Mission.

Technically termed a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle,’ it is akin to Delhi Metro or the Shahjahanabad Redevelopment Corporation and will evaluate plans and release funds for NDMC’s smart city ideas.

The decision was taken at NDMC’s Council meeting on April 26, presided over by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Director (Projects) Neeraj Bharti told Mail Today, “All the modalities and finer details have been ironed out. The SPV’s Articles of Associndmcation – which define its constitution, membership and powers – have been charted out.”

“Its board will have 13 directors headed by a CEO. The first line of directors will include NDMC Chairperson Naresh Kumar; its secretary and financial advisor. Four directors will come from the central government and the state government. The Remaining five will be chosen from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) empanelled list of experts,” said Bharti on the board’s composition.

Besides, he informed that NDMC’s proposal has already been forwarded to its guardian, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and a state-level High-powered Steering Committee (HPSC) set up under the Smart Cities scheme. “As soon as we get an approval from them, the SPV will be registered under the Companies Act, 2013,” he said.

Notably, NDMC is already running late in cornering its share of Rs 200 crore funds under the Smart Cities Mission. The first instalment of aid from the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), Rs 194 crore minus taxes, was to come on March 31. However, it was subject to the setting up of the SPV. Even though MoUD Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, announced the list of India’s first 20 smart cities in January, including the New Delhi municipal area, it seems, the council didn’t act in haste. Resultantly, the procedure to set up the SPV got caught in bureaucratic red-tape.

A senior MoUD official said, “Smaller cities like Jaipur, Udaipur, Bhopal and Indore have shown much more expediency in taking advantage of PM Narendra Modi’s scheme. In fact, Odisha capital, Bhubaneswar, which ranked first in our 20 smart cities list, also became the first in acquiring an SPV. It held its first board meeting in April at which several operational decisions were taken.”

An NDMC official blamed the inadvertent delay on the council’s initial belief that it may not require an SPV. He said, “First, unlike other urban local bodies, we fall under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs directly.

Second, our constitution is not different from that of an SPV. Third, a dilemma ensued over how much power could be delegated to the SPV CEO and directors, and how much retained with NDMC Council.”

“Following these, we requested MoUD to create a special case for us, bypassing the SPV route, and release the funds directly. However, the Centre rejected that and we had to begin discussions on it afresh,” he explained.

Bharti, added, “In any case, there has been no let up on the speed of our projects due to SPV.

We have already initiated several of them under the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model, including 24×7 water and electricity supply in Lutyen’s Zone, free Wi-Fi facility, smart poles, smart classrooms, etc.”

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