First of all, let’s understand the basics of Land acquisition and its process, before we learn about the reasons for opposition. Hope this article helps. Please leave your comments.
What Land acquisition means?
Land acquisition refers to the process by which the government forcibly acquires private property for public purpose.
Which Act governs the Land acquisition process?
Modi Government is not the originator of the Land acquisition Law. It goes back to 1894. The Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1894 Act) governs all such acquisitions. In addition to this, there are 16 Acts with provisions for acquisition of land in specific sectors such as railways, special economic zones, national highways, etc. Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) for those affected by land acquisition is governed by the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007.
The new Law
Since there were two different laws governing acquisition and rehabilitation, in May 2011, the National Advisory Council recommended combining the provisions of land acquisition and R&R within a single Bill. In September 2011, the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill was introduced. It became an Act in September 2013 and came into force with effect from 1st January 2014 as ‘The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’
Major points covered under this Act.
Some of the major points covered under this Act are (a) Public Purpose (b) the process of land acquisition (c) rights of the people displaced by the acquisition (d) method of calculating compensation and (e) requirement of R&R for all acquisitions. Let’s discuss each of them separately.
Public Purpose – Land may be acquired only for public purpose. The Bill defines public purpose to include: defence and national security; roads, railways, highways and ports built by government and public sector enterprises, land for the project affected people, planned development, and improvement of village or urban sites and residential purposes for the poor and landless, government administered schemes or institutions etc.
In case of acquisition of land for use by private companies or public private partnerships, consent of 80 per cent of the displaced people will be required.
Process of Land Acquisition
- The government shall conduct a Social Impact assessment (SIA) study, in consultation with the people of that area and issue an SIA report.
- SIA report will be evaluated by expert group and if they are satisfied that the land can be acquired, a preliminary notification indicating the intent to acquire land is issued within 12 months from the date of evaluation of the SIA Report
- Thereafter, the government calls for any objections to this process and such objections shall be heard. Following this, if the government is satisfied that a particular piece of land must be acquired for public purpose, a declaration to acquire the land is made. Once this declaration is published, the government shall acquire the land
Compensation to the land owners:
- The compensation for land acquisition is determined by the Government.
- Compensation for the owners of the acquired land shall be four times the market value in case of rural areas and twice in case of urban areas
Process of Rehabilitation and Resettlement
- Once the preliminary notification for acquisition is published, an Administrator shall be appointed.The Administrator shall conduct a survey and prepare the R&R scheme
- After such scheme is approved by the Government, the Administrator shall carry out the scheme.
- Every resettled area is to be provided with certain infrastructural facilities. These facilities include roads, drainage, provision for drinking water, grazing land, banks, post offices, public distribution outlets, etc
- The Bill also provides the displaced families with certain R&R entitlements. These include, among other things, (i) land for a house as per the Indira Awas Yojana in rural areas or a constructed house of at least 50 square metres plinth area in urban areas; (ii) a one-time allowance of Rs 50,000 for affected families; and (iii) the option of choosing either mandatory employment in projects where jobs are being created or a one-time payment of Rs 5 lakh or an inflation adjusted annuity of Rs 2,000 per month per family for 20 years.
So, what are the changes done by Modi government through Land Acquisition Ordinance?
- The Government felt that thought the Act came into effect from 01.01.2014 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. Hence The Union Cabinet has approved certain amendments in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and issued an ordinance.
- The Government is of the view that the proposed amendments meet the twin objectives of farmer welfare; along with expeditiously meeting the strategic and developmental needs of the country
Change # 1 – Excluded Acts brought under RFCTLARR Act for Compensation and R&R.
The existing Act has kept 13 most frequently used Acts for Land Acquisition for the Central Government Projects out of the purview. These acts are applicable for national highways, metro rail, atomic energy projects, electricity related other projects etc. Thus a large percentage of famers and affected families were denied the compensation and R&R measures prescribed under the Act. The present amendments bring all those exempted 13 Acts under the purview of this Act for the purpose of compensation as well as rehabilitation and resettlement. Therefore, the amendment benefits the farmers and the affected families.
Pro-development: Faster processing without compromising on compensation or R&R measures to farmers.
The second important aspect of the amendment is to make developmental and security related works much faster without compromising on the benefits/compensation to be given to the farmers.
Change # 2 – As per the Act, in case of acquisition of land for use by private companies or public private partnerships, consent of 80 per cent of the displaced people was required.
But Modi government has amended Section 10(A) of the Act to expand sectors where assessment and consent will not be required for setting up projects in five sectors. So the government or private individuals/companies will no longer need mandatory 80% consent for land acquisition in those five sectors namely, national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and housing for the poor including PPP where ownership of land continues to be vested with the government. Similarly, Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is not required for setting up projects in the above sectors. (Why is this amendment being opposed? This is one of the main contentions of social activists that the farmers will not have any voice when the government/private wants to acquire their land. Their consent is not required for acquisition)
Change # 3: As per the Act, apart from the land owner, all those who are dependent on the land also needed to be compensated. But the new ordinance ensures that only land owners will be compensated.
(Why is this amendment being opposed? There are many people who are depending upon agriculture land. Their life will get adversely affected if the land is acquired and no compensation is given to them)
Hope this article helps.
Read Also : How Ordinance is different from Bills