Since it is such a polarizing issue right now, it’d probably help to make my position clear upfront - I believe that in order to achieve industrial &/or infrastructural development, land acquisition is a necessary evil any country would've to learn to deal with & any amendments made to the law by a pragmatic regime towards making acquisition easier shouldn't necessarily make the exercise anymore capitalistic than it already is.
Having said that, a brief review of the key changes proposed through “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015” indicates that certain overtly simplistic assumptions were made while proposing the amendment & buried amidst all the text is an unhappy irony;
Exemption of five categories of land use: (i) Defence, (ii) Rural infrastructure, (iii) Affordable housing, (iv) Industrial corridors, and (v) Infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects from key provisions thereby making the following possible;
  • Land acquisition can be initiated even when an overwhelming majority (say 99%..) of the land-owners of the region are against it
  • No social impact assessment needs to be conducted by the mega corporations (public, private & PPP) proposing these mega projects falling under the above categories
  • Unlimited acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land
The provisions governing the return of unutilized land expanded (from the earlier unutilized beyond 5 years clause) to make it possible that;
  • Any entity (not just the above five categories) can hold-on to the land for a long duration by merely stating upfront the estimated time of it being not utilized (say 10 years..)
Amendment to include/ make possible acquisition of land for private hospitals and private educational institutions
That any project that can be interpreted, even if remotely, as nationalistic is automatically deemed to have a higher purpose and hence need not seek mundane clearances
That the project being a PPP makes it automatically beyond review &/or reproach
That reassigning irrigated crop-lands for the above categories is much more justified than say, for assigning them to a seed processing center
That there is no inherent malintent in an entity that wants to possess land (crop-land, barren otherwise..) but keep it unutilized beyond five years
It so appears that a company like Finmeccanica* aiming to set-up a Torpedo manufacturing unit in Assam can get its 1000 acres of land on a platter while a Sankara Nethralaya* wanting to set-up a 100 acre campus in Noida may have to do a full-fledged social impact assessment at high cost and invest in a long-drawn negotiation exercise to obtain consent from 80% of the highly realty-savvy land-owners there. (*just to illustrate the case, not real investments)
For me the most glaring aspect here is the casualness with which SIA is eliminated for all mega projects that actually can impact and alter a social ecosystem AND the inexplicably negligent approach of not wanting to limit conversion of fertile crop-lands to industrial campuses.
Even if the purported anarchists; pseudo/ neo-socialists are ignored & even if the finance minister is indeed justified in claiming the amendment only corrects the anomalies left out by UPA in the 2013 bill, the government should still explain the above 'new anomalies' introduced by them in the proposed amendment before steamrolling the bill through to legislation.
After all, acche’ din (good times) need a saccha irada (noble intention) to ride-in on.