After signing more than 100 memoranda of understanding for setting up of industrial projects during last decade, the State government has termed the MoU as ‘comfort document’, which has no legal bearing. The government refined the definition of MoU when Comptroller and Auditor General of India questioned the validity of land acquisition after expiry of MoU.
“The MoU is tool for investment promotion which accords a degree of comfort to promoters to initiate project development, without over-ruling the provisions of other statutory framework applicable to an industrial project such as land acquisition and law material projects,” the government said in response to draft CAG report. “In case of continuance of land acquisition proceedings even after expiry of validity of MoU is strictly legal, more so when the existence of an MoU is not a necessary legal and statutory requirement for setting up of project or taking any steps towards that end,” it says
“Procurement of land is being made either through the operation of Land Acquisition Act or the Odisha Government Land Settlement Act, which are independent of MoU. Once the process starts under the due process of law it moves as per the act concerned and does not wait for extension of MoU. Thus lapse of MoU does not stand as a bar on the path of land acquisition,” the government response adds. For long government has been criticised for acquiring land even after expiry of MoU.