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Is Land Acquisition the prime reason for stalling of Projects? Data obtained using RTI says ‘No’


According to the data provided by the Ministry of Finance in reply to an RTI application, only 8% of all the stalled projects are because of Land Acquisition reasons. The reasons for 1/3rd of the stalled projects is not known. And only 11 of the projects stalled because of Land Acquisition reasons involve projects for the poor and disadvantaged.


The amendments to the Land Acquisition act (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act) are being touted by many in the Government as a game changer in triggering growth. It is also being publicized that Land Acquisition has been stalling projects and hindering growth & investments. The Economic Survey 2014-15 also has a special chapter dedicated to stalled projects where it talks in detail about stalled projects. The details of such projects were not annexed to the report.

RTI activist Mr. Venkatesh Nayak filed an application under the RTI with the Ministry of Finance seeking details about these stalled projects like location, type of project, ownership (Public/Private), reasons for stalling of the project etc. The Ministry replied promptly with all the details about the 804 projects that are stalled as of February 2015.

Where are the projects stalled?

The 804 projects that are stalled are across 24 States and two UTs for variety of reasons. Maharashtra with 125 stalled projects topped the list followed by Gujarat (63 projects), West Bengal (55 projects), Karnataka (52 projects) and Telangana (52) making the rest of the top 5.

Land Acquisition Bill - Number of Stalled Projects in States as of Feb 2015

Type of Ownership

Out of the stalled projects, 78% are Private Sector projects while 22% are by the Public Sector (like Central/State governments, PSUs etc).

Land Acquistion Bill - Type of Ownership Public vs Private


Is Land Acquisition the Prime Reason?

According to the data, only 8% or 66 of the 804 projects are stalled due to Land Acquisition related problems. In other words, not even one in ten projects is stalled because of problems related to Land Acquisition. The data is in complete contradiction with what the advocates of the Land Acquisition ordinance have been saying, that the land acquisition process is holding up a lot of projects and hindering growth/investments.

About 39% of the projects have stalled due to unfavorable market conditions or lack of funds or raw material or fuel supply problems. The list mentions the reason as ‘Others’ for 19% of the projects while no reason is available for 15% of the projects. In other words, we do not know the reason for 34% or 1/3rd of the stalled projects. And yet, the government wants us to believe that Land Acquisition is the biggest issue.

Only 4.2% of the stalled projects were pending because of environmental clearances whereas lack of clearance from the State Governments amount to 11.8% of the total. In other words, only 16% of the projects are stalled because of regulatory clearances. Apart from these, there are other reasons like natural calamity etc for about the remaining 3% projects.

Land Acquistion Bill - Major Reasons for stalling of Projects

Type of Projects

It is also said that the amendments to the Land Acquisition are to promote development for the poorer sections like affordable housing, rural electrification etc and hence they are being exempted from consent & social impact assessment. But of the 66 projects stalled for land acquisition reasons, only 11 or 1.36% of all the projects directly relate to the well being of the poor & disadvantaged sections like Slum Rehabilitation, Budget Housing, Bus Stand etc. In other words, welfare of the poor looks like an alibi.

On the other hand, at least 145 of the stalled projects, about 18% are for the affluent and the rich class. These are projects involving construction of Shopping Malls, Elite Hotels, Resorts, Multiplexes, Elite residences/villas, Golf Courses, Racing Tracks etc.

Another 25 stalled projects are about setting up townships- nothing in the list provided by Ministry of Finance indicates which segment of society they are intended to benefit. However, it must also be said that the list of 804 projects also includes power generation, airport construction or expansion, road and railway expansion, pharmaceutical, textile, software and SEZ projects amongst others. Mining projects for coal and uranium amongst other metals are also part of the stalled projects list.

Missing Data

The data does not have information about how long these projects have been installed condition. It also does not say if these are the only projects that are stalled across the country. The data also does not mention the value/cost of all the projects stalled.

Interestingly, the data provided under the RTI act and also in the Economic Survey 2014-15 are based on inputs provided by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy Ltd. (CMIE). CMIE is a private sector business information company. We do not even know if the government has done anything to cross check the veracity of this database.


  • RTI reply from Ministry of Finance
  • Data Analysis by Venkatesh Nayak

Featured Image Source: Arabinda Mahapatra


About Author

Rakesh has been working on issues related to Right to Information (RTI) for a decade. He is a Data/Information enthusiast & passionate about Governance/Policy issues.


  1. J R Janumpalli on

    It looks like BJP governments’ adamant attitude for amendment to Land Acquisition Act, 2013, which was brought about after amending the 100 year old Act of 1894 is just to score a political point over Congress party.

  2. This is a misleading article. What is the value of the stalled 66 projects ? Could it also be that a chunk of the stalled projects in which reasons were not given also be due to land acquisition ?

    No one ever said that the LAB will be a panacea for the entire economy. But it will surely boost the economy and especially the rural economy .

    By misusing statistics and saying that only 8% projects are stalled due to LAB so LAB is useless , is something driven by agenda.

    Please post a PDF link of the reply to RTI query . I want to see it myself . I googled but was unable to find the reply.

    • When the government itself does not know the reasons for many stalled projects and even for the ones known, only a small percentage are stalled due to LAB, the question we should be asking is what is the tearing hurry in issuing ordinances and why is the govt hell bent on making people believe that LAB is the panacea. That is how it looks like from the statements of many union ministers. And read our story on misuse of SEZ land

      When private private players are known to misuse land like this, putting private projects in the exempted category in the guise of PPP is opening doors for land loot. If the govt was serious, it should have held consultations with every stakeholder not just Industry, identify the problems with existing law and then bring in necessary changes, not take the ordinance route.

      • the failure of many SEZs is a well known fact. often times SEZs were designated for a particular industry and ended up being real estate projects..

        But , failure of a few cases of SEZs is not a case against land acquisition. Some cases of PSLV failed . But that did not stop our space program. Some marriages will end with a divorce . But that is not an argument against the institution of marriage.

        Again , you did not answer my request. Can I look at the PDF copy of the replied RTI of the stalled projects ? I am not able to find the copy.

        Why it is important is that large mega projects are more likely to be stalled due to land acquisition problem. Projects like power plants , semiconductor FAB , automobile Industry etc are more likely to fail due to LAB related issues , rather than a software company which usually require smaller land.

        Ultimately all non forest , non government ,non defense land should be in the market. All land ownership should be private.(barring the exceptions mentioned). Everyone should have a right to own agricultural land . And every farmer should have the opportunity to quit farming. Presently that is clearly not the case

        • The reply is already sent to your email. Coming to your comments, thats precisely the reason why bulldozing via ordinance was unnecessary. We should be learning from previous experience. So the government has to be more careful to putting proper checks and balances against such misuse in future. Law/policy cannot be based on intuition but solid ground work. Does the govt have any data to prove that those 5 kinds of projects were being held up for land acquisition reasons? Did the govt do any study on how much land would be required in the next 2-3 decades for industrial and other purposes? And unless it does a methodical job, it is bound to raise doubts.

          And precisely what you said, the farmer should be able to decide for himself whether or not to quit farming. Then why are we taking away his right to consent?

        • “Every farmer should have the opportunity to quit farming” – made me smile.

          As if there is a choice for the (small) farmer anywhere in this scheme. He can either farm in a system heavily tilted towards large landowners, quit out of desperation and migrate to the city and work as a daily labor without any social or legal protection whatsoever, or kill himself.

          The usage of the word opportunity reflects either –
          a. Underestimation or complete lack of awareness about the stranglehold of caste, class and power resulting due to both on a small, marginal farmer.
          b. A misguided estimation of how money – which is not just a medium of exchange – has perverted effects on the socio-psycho-cultural fabric of a community and its individuals.

          • JNU , I believe?

            All lefties typically argue on the lines of evil caste system and money corrupting the petty bourgeois etc . Seriously the humanities curriculum needs a change, Without math and science , this is all u guys can think.

            Basically , the current agricultural model is unsustainable and we should not have been in this shape for so long. We need much higher per acre yield , much lower cultivated yield and a 90 fold reduction in people engaged in agriculture by mechanization . Most of those can easily be engaged in manufacturing and the service sectors.. For all practical purposes , these workers are presently unemployed .

            Not doing the above is a grave injustice to those agricultural workers ,not withstanding any garbage generated in the social studies department of any college.

          • in the previous comment “much lower cultivated yield” should be read as much lower cultivated land.

    • i fully agree with you.the artical says that projects like mining power railways toad are also incuded in the list. but does no give detaiks of their land requirment ,capitol involved, and benifits that would be genrated from them. LAB is exempting SIA and consent of farmers for such projects only and there is nothing wronge in it.MODI gOVT HAS FAILED TO PRJECT THIS ASPECT BEFORE THE NATION. I feel very sorry for this.

  3. Very interesting and informative….There are many pending projects under PPP mode also…owing to regulatory issues, litigation on tender irregularities etc..basically lack of institutional capacity…

  4. Shamim Mondal on

    Hi Rakesh, Just came across this site and would be interested in the data. Can you please send it to my email? Thanks.