In the 2015 pre-Budget session of the Parliament on February 24, the Narendra Modi government introduced the controversial Land Acquisition Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha amid vociferous protest by almost all opposition parties. While the opposition is branding changes in the current ordinance as ‘anti-farmer’, the government claims that the new amendments will benefit farmers. The Land Acquisition Act was passed by the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government in 2013, and now the Modi government has introduced Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 to make changes in the current Act. (Read: Budget Session 2015: Land Acquisition Bill introduced in Lok Sabha, Opposition walks out)
Here are positive and negative clauses of the new Land Acquisition Amendment Bill:
1- The existing Act kept 13 most frequently used acts for Land Acquisition for Central Government Projects out of the purview. These acts are applicable for national highways, metro rail, atomic energy projects, electricity related projects, etc. The present amendments bring all those exempted from the 13 acts under the purview of this Act for the purpose of compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement. Therefore, the amendment benefits farmers and affected families.
2- The proposed changes in the Land Acquisition Act would allow a fast track process for defence and defence production, rural infrastructure including electrification, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including projects taken up under Public Private Partnership mode where ownership of the land continues to be vested with the government.
3- As per the changes brought in the Ordinance, multi-crop irrigated land can also be acquired for purposes like national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and building social infrastructure.
1- The original Land Acquisition Act, 2013 had a consent clause for acquiring land – industrial corridors, Public Private Partnership projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence. But after the central government changed, it exempted these five categories from the rule of acquitting land in the Bill tabled on February 24.
2- Social assessment which was mandatory before acquitting land has also been exempted in the Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha.
3- As per the existing law, land will be given back to the farmer if it remains unused for five years. The proposed amendment says the land will be returned only if the specified project on the land fails to complete the deadline.
4- Bureaucrats will be punished if found guilty of violating any clause of the existing Land Act. However, the new clause makes government sanction necessary to prosecute civil servants.
The Land Acquisition Amendment Act, 2015 is currently creating a lot of hassle in Parliament with the Lok Sabha session being adjourned for the same on February 24. With both opposition and ruling parties equally holding their leashes tight on the Land Bill, only time will tell if the amendments in the Land Acquisition Act will be passed or not and whether they will be truly beneficial.
Edited by Shweta Parande
Published Date: February 24, 2015 9:03 PM IST
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Land acquisition bill - Boon or Bane
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013 was recently passed by the Parliament. The Bill has provisions to provide fair compensation to those whose land is acquired by public or private sector. There are advantages and disadvantages of the bill.
ADVANTAGES OF THE BILL
It brings transparency to the process of acquisition of land to set up factories or buildings, infrastructural projects and assures rehabilitation of those affected.
This legislation will benefit both industry and those whose livelihood is dependent on land. It provides two times more compensation in urban areas and four times more compensation in rural areas than the circle price.
The circle rates are decided by the local government on the basis of average sale price for the last 3 years or last 3 months whichever is higher.
The bill establishes regulations for land acquisition as a part of India's massive industrialization drive driven by public-private partnership.
The bill will be central legislation in India for the rehabilitation and resettlement of families affected by land acquisitions.
In addition the bill has a provision by which states can add some more benefits to it.
The bill will eclipse the eminent domain criteria and introduce voting criteria in which 80% of the people should say yes only then land will be acquired.
The Bill will replace the decade old Land Acquisition Act of 1894, which was enacted during British rule.
However there is still some confusion whether the bill is boon or a bane. Many people say it is a boon, others say that it is just a move to increase the vote bank in the forthcoming elections.
DISADVANTAGES OF THE BILL
The Industry has serious concerns on some of the provisions of the Land Acquisition Bill.
- The CII say that the cost of land acquisition will be increased by three times thus making the forthcoming projects unviable. In addition, the CII notes that the Bill would lead to major delays in the process of Land acquisition. The clause of obtaining consent of 80 percent of affected families for private sector and 70 percent of affected families for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects would make the process of obtaining consent a very long drawn out process.
- The Bill talks of an urgency clause which means that government can acquire a land it wants by ignoring all the pre-set conditions.
- The Resettlement & Rehabilitation clause gives no guarantee to jobs.
- The Bill compensates different categories of affected families at par, not aligned to their losses. So there could be cases where compensation calculated is lower than the market rate.
- State is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to acquiring farm land.
- The Bill does not guarantee return of unused land if land owner repays compensation to the state.
In addition, the Government has exempted some clauses & act from the bill. They can acquire land under these acts without any voting as these are exempted sectors. Some of the sectors are:
- Nuclear Projects
- Low cost housing
- Industrial area or parks.
Besides these, the Land acquisition has been placed under state list. States will decide now whether to improve the bill or follow the existing norms.
So seeing all these facts, the bill has brought more disadvantages with it rather than the advantages. The bill is said to be the base for "Right to Fair Compensation," it means wellbeing of the people whose lands are acquired. Now the question is whether the bill has benefitted the people. Seeing all the disadvantages, the answer is a NO.