Land Acquisition Bill In India

By Atul Chavan - 7:47 PM

The Land Acquisition Act of 2013 is a legal Act in India which allows the Government of India to acquire any land in the country. As per Constitution of India land belongs to some individual or group of individuals have legal rights to own the land. These individuals are free to use their land according to their will or to sale their land for monetary or other advantages. However, at times land is needed for some community purpose, like roads, canals, government offices,military camps, SEZ, etc. Government can acquire the individuals land.Land Acquisition literally means acquiring of land for some public purpose by government/government agency as authorized by the law from the individual landowner (s) after  paying some compensation in lieu of losses occurred to land owner(s) due to surrendering of his/their land to the concerned government agency. Land acquisition is currently governed by  the right to fair compensation and settlement act 2013 which comes in effect from January 2014  prior, to that it was governed by land acquisition act 1894.

Appropriate Government would mean the Central Government if the purpose for acquisition is for the Union and for other purpose it is the State Government. It is not necessary that all the acquisition has to be initiated by the government alone. Local authorities, societies registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 and Co-Operative Societies established under the Co-operative Societies Act can also acquire the land for developmental activities through the government.

Land Acquisition Act of 2013

The 2013 Act focuses on providing not only compensation to the land owners, but also extend rehabilitation and resettlement benefits to livelihood looser from the land, which shall be in addition to the minimum compensation. The minimum compensation to be paid to the land owners is based on a multiple of market value and other factors laid down in the Act. The Act forbids or regulates land acquisition when such acquisition would include multi-crop irrigated area. The Act changed the norms for acquisition of land for use by private companies or in case of public-private partnerships, including compulsory approval of 80% of the landowners. The Act also introduced changes in the land acquisition process, including a compulsory social-impact study, which need to be conducted before an acquisition in made.

The new law, also has some serious shortcomings as regards its provisions for socioeconomic impact assessment and it has also bypassed the constitutional local self governments by not recognizing them as "appropriate governments" in matters of land acquisition.

The executive order , or ordinance tries to make it easier for industrial land the ordinance chips away a major obstacle to industrial investment the ordinance makes land acquisition much simpler from several provisions of current laws .

What does the ordinance of land acquisition means basically?
  • It make acquisition easier in five areas industrial corridors,social infrastructure such as education, rural infrastructure such as road,powers housing for poor, defense etc
  • Such project will not need consent of 80% of landowners as in requirement in other sectors.
  • Multi-crop irrigate land can be acquired for these purposes.
  • Mandatory provision of jobs for whose land is acquired for industry corridors
Reasons for ordinance; governments stand:
  • In past Indian industry and foreign companies have faced problems in acquiring land for projects. In 2013 Mittal, largest steel maker put down plan to build factory in Orissa.
  • The changes now introduced for PM Narendra Modi for "Make In India".
General Issues with Land Acquisition:
  •  Displacement of people from their native places, leading to distress. Local markets, grass root businesses & micro economies disturbed. Unemployment issues due to above two factors. 
  • Inappropriate compensation for farmlands.
  •  Economic Imbalances in societies.
  •  Agricultural land shrinks leading to farm shortages at places.  
  • No benefits for livelihood losers who are usually far greater in number than the land owners.  
  • Exploitation of poor people in name of acquisition.
  • Proliferation of Land mafia.
So What's New in New Bill Proposed by BJP Government?

The BJP government has now introduced amendments to this act, which have been opposed by all political parties, including their ally Shiv Sena in the Rajya Sabha. The BJP's argument has been that the UPA's land acquisition law makes it impractical to acquire land for any public purpose and endlessly delays infrastructure projects.

While the amendments were passed in the lower house of the Parliament where BJP enjoys a vast majority, it has been unable to pass this in the Rajya Sabha. Instead, it took recourse in an ordinance to pass the amendments to the bill in December 2014.

Why Are The Political Parties So Opposed To The Amendments?

The amended act does not require consent from 80 percent of the land owners, if the purpose is for five sectors — national security, defense, rural infrastructure (including electrification), industrial corridors and housing for the poor. Social Impact Assessment (SIA) is also not required for these projects, according to these new amendments. This would mean that only the land owner would be compensated, since the SIA, used to track how many people depend on the land, is now being done away with.

According to the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a national platform of tribal and forest dwellers' organizations in ten States, the bill has far too many loopholes to swing it in favour of industrialists and private interests.

Even though 80 percent consent from land owners is required when the project does not fall into the five categories stated earlier, the group claimed that there were two easy ways to circumvent the rule. One was in cases when a private group had acquired part of the land, then the government could acquire the rest of the land and would not require consent from land owners.

Second, government could acquire land for their own purpose, "to hold and control", and then change their mind and hand it over to a private company. According to the organisation, under section 1A(1)(a) of the amended act, what mattered was the intent of the government at the time of acquisition, which could change afterwards.

The members from Congress, Left, Trinamool Congress, SP, BSP and JD-U have all opposed the government over provisions of the land ordinance calling it "anti-farmer" and aimed at "benefitting corporates".

What Does The BJP Have To Say?

BJP has completely denied allegations that the amended act is anti-poor and anti-farmer.

"Opposition parties like Congress, Trinamool, Samajwadi Party and BSP have been carrying out a relentless campaign to create an impression that the ordinance is anti-farmer. We want to make it clear that contrary to their claims, the provisions in the ordinance will provide huge long-term benefits to the farmers of the country," BJP national secretary Siddharth Nath Singh has said.

The have also claimed that it is a "pro-farmer" bill as it has included 13 so far excluded Acts under the Land Acquisition Act, and land acquired from these existing central pieces of legislation will also require the same form of rehabilitation and compensation.

Post By: Abhishek Gattani - Trainee Engineer T&ES Jade Global Software Pvt Ltd.

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