Indian media: Mixed views over land reforms

Some experts feel India's fresh land reforms may affect the real-estate sector's growth Some experts feel India's fresh land reforms may affect the real-estate sector's growth

There is a mixed verdict on the government's new land reforms bill from media and experts, with many saying it will benefit farmers but could harm the country's real-estate sector.

India's lower house of parliament on Thursday approved a new Land Acquisition Bill, which aims to ensure that real-estate firms and industrialists pay fair compensation to farmers and land owners.

"The path-breaking Land Acquisition Bill, which seeks to provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land can be acquired forcibly, was passed by the Lok Sabha (lower house) with [an] overwhelming majority," a report in the Economic Times says.

The Hindu says the bill "proposes that farmers and landowners be paid up to four times the market value for land acquired in rural areas, and two times the market value in urban areas".

Newspapers are also highlighting concerns raised by industry leaders over the bill's impact on the economy.

"India Inc believes that the Land Acquisition Bill may push up cost of acquiring land by up to 3.5 times, making industrial projects unviable and raising overall costs in the economy," reports the First Post website.

"The resettlement and rehabilitation cost is also likely to go up by about three times compared to the prevailing practice. The Bill compensates different categories of affected families at par, not aligned to their losses," the Hindustan Times quotes S Gopalakrishnan, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, as saying.

Meanwhile, newspapers including The Pioneer and the Hindustan Times, say the arrest of alleged "top militant" Yasin Bhatkal will boost security forces' morale in their fight against terrorism.

"Apart from this being a morale booster, Bhatkal is a repository of crucial information," the Hindustan Times says in an editorial.

Concerns over Syria

In world news, newspapers are concerned about the ongoing unrest in Syria and the possibility of a US-led military intervention.

The Tribune says there is a need to "stop such atrocities" in Syria, but "any intervention should be based on a well-thought strategy, duly discussed and debated".

Others papers, including The Asian Age, feel India should "articulate its position against war in unhesitating terms and strongly urge not abandoning the search for a political solution".

In technology news, the import of smart-phones in India has increased by 200% in the last one year as the country's mobile-phone market continues to grow, The Times of India reports.

And in a similar vein, India will help build the "world's largest ground-based optical and infrared telescope ever built", The Tribune reports.

India has signed an agreement on master partnership for the construction of Thirty-Meter Telescope along with five partner countries, Canada, China, India, Japan and the US, the reports adds.

Moving on to health-related news, Indians are found to have the "poorest lung function and the highest number of deaths from chronic lung diseases in the world", The Telegraph website reports.

The study, co-ordinated by Salim Yusuf, an India-educated professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada, examined lung functions of 46,000 women and 17,000 men and presented his results at the American Thoracic Society meeting this year.

And finally, India hockey star Sardar Singh has signed up for Bloemendaal, one of the biggest Dutch clubs, The Asian Age website reports.

"The Dutch League is one of the most competitive in the world. I am looking forward to honing my skills at the club, after the Asia Cup. There is a lot to learn," the report quoted Sardar as saying.

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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