LAND ACQUISITION ACT

Today (17/3/2015) as i write this article (5:50 PM)  , the joint opposition led by Mrs Sonia Gandhi is making its way to the parliament house from Raisina hill  . This rare show of opposition unity is a part of the ongoing campaign against the amendments to The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 ,made by the NDA government through an ordinance in December 2014. To understand the issue  , let us analyze the various land acquisition bills so far.

1.Land Acquisition Act, 1894

The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 came into effect on March 1st 1894 . After independence the law was extended to the rest of India excluding the state of Jammu And Kashmir .The highlights of the bill are:

  • The act is divided into 8 parts , each relating to various procedures involved .
  • Part 2 deals with acquisition which include  preliminary notification in the official gazette by the district Collector , Hearing of objection , Declaration of land for public purposes (after objections are taken into account) , marking out and measuring of land and the final allocation of land .
  • In cases of urgency the collector can acquire the land without any of the following procedures after just 15 days of notification . In case of unforeseen emergency the period can be as short as 48 hours. The quantum of compensation in these cases would be determined by the collector himself.
  • Part 3 explains the reference to the court if compensation was found in adequate .
  • The quantum of compensation depends on – market value and the damage sustained by the owner. But these are to be neglected in urgency .
  • part 5 deals with the payment of compensation.
  • part 7 deals with acquisition of land for companies , which must be public sector enterprises or co operative bodies where the government holding is over 51% of share.

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2 .The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

This act which came into effect on January 1 , 2014 , was aimed at giving a humane , participative , informed and transparent face to the procedure of land acquisition. The highlights are:

    • It applies to public sector undertakings , infrastructure projects ,public private partnerships and private companies under taking public projects  .
    • For private companies consent of 80% of the affected families is required for acquisition while public private partnerships requires consent of at least 70% of the families.
    • The act is divided into 13 chapters,
    • chapter 2 explains the determination of social impact and public purpose . A social impact assessment study is to be undertaken in consultation with the local government ( panchayats and municipalities ) , which must be made available to the public . The authority responsible for the social impact assessment study must also prepare a social impact management plan to address the impact of the project.
    • The social impact assessment report will be evaluated by an independent multidisciplinary expert group , whose recommendations will be made available to the public.
    • chapter 3 restricts the acquisition of irrigated multi cropped land to safeguard food security.
    • chapter 4 speaks about the notification and acquisition along with the preparation of rehabilitation and resettlement scheme . It also explains the determination of the quantum of compensation along with the guidelines to adjust it to the market value.
    • chapter 5 deals with the rehabilitation and resettlement awards for the affected families , including mandatory employment to the members of such families.special provisions are provided for the SCs and STs .
    • In cases of urgency the collector can acquire the land without any of the following procedures after just 30days of notification . In case of unforeseen emergency the period can be as short as 48 hours.
    • chapter 6 explains the manner and procedure of rehabilitation and resettlement under a commissioner for the purpose.
    • chapter 7 says about the constitution of Monitoring Committees For Rehabilitation and Resettlement at the state and national level.
    • chapter 8 deals with the setting up Land Acquisition , Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority.
    • chapter 10 explains the payment procedure.
    • If the land acquired remains unutilised for 5 years it would be returned back to the family or to the land bank of appropriate government.
    • The provisions of this Bill shall not apply to acquisitions under 13 existing legislations including the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the Railways Act, 1989, etc.

3 The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition,Rehabilitation and Resettlement(Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.

  • The provisions of the Bill was extended to apply to acquisitions under 13 existing legislations including the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the Railways Act, 1989, etc.
  • Exemption from social impact assessment , consent and food security provisions for the process of land acquisition for strategic and development activities such as national security or defence of India including preparation for defence and defence production; rural infrastructure including electrification; affordable housing and housing for poor; industrial corridors; infrastructure
    and social infrastructure projects including projects under public private partnership where the ownership of the land continues to vest with the Government .
  • In order to ensure better health and educational facilities in the country, it is proposed to include private hospitals and private educational institutions in the definition of ‘public purpose’.

The amendment is being criticized for taking away the social impact assessment , consent and food security provisions . But the government stands by its decision as it believes these provisions would make the acquisition process faster , without loosing its pro poor appeal. The 2013 act is one of the finest pieces of legislation ever made in the field of land acquisition anywhere in the world , hence it is up to the current government to keep the true essence of that legislation in whatever decision it takes

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