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Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act

Land acquisition: The word literally means acquiring land by the government or government agencies for a public purpose from individual owners at a fixed compensation for incurring losses on account of surrendering the lands.                        Land Acquisition Rehabilitation

“The Land Acquisition Act of 1894” was passed in British India (thus covering present day Pakistan also) which said that “acquired land from owners will be compensated on fair terms and it shall be used to construct educational institutions, slum clearance, hospitals and other governmental activities”. Under this act the authorities followed a ship shape procedure to acquire land. The concerned authority of the government, central or state, shall investigate the land, pronounce their obligations with the land, hear owners plea and then shall come under a conclusion on compensation and claiming authority over it.

But problems like “determining fair compensation” and owner’s claim for rehabilitation and resettlement were frequent under this law. Therefore, to iron out some of the discrepancies of this century old law, Government took steps to draft “Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011″

Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011:

This bill was passed in the monsoon session of parliament in 2013 , thus replacing the 120 year old act enacted by the British rule. It provides for a fair compensation, transparency in acquiring land and rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced. As now a days most of the industries are established through Public Private Partnership route in India, the act also sought a relief for industrial capitalists and the government.

The act envisages clarifying the following questions: (Here on legislation is followed in all the three aspects viz. acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement.)

  • What does ‘public purpose’ mean?
  •  What is the meaning of a land owner?
  •  How the land acquired will be made useful?
  •  How is the compensation, transparency achieved?

What does ‘public purpose’ mean? : Public purpose refers to defense 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.

Exception: if land is being acquired for none of the above stated purposes by PPP or private companies, then the consent of 80% of the project affected people is required to acquire land.

What is the meaning of a land owner? : The Act recognises the land owner if:

  •  he is registered in the concerned authority
  • he was assigned land by the government under any of its social development initiatives
  • a person holding rights under India’s The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

How the land acquired will be made useful? : The acquired land will be made useful for public purposes as stated above and will be verified constantly for its prospects

How is the compensation, transparency achieved? : The compensation for land acquisition is determined by the Collector and awarded by him to the land owner within two years from the date of publication of the declaration of acquisition. There is a specified criteria being followed during compensation :

Firstly, the land is being surveyed and a final amount is being decided on the basis of : Indian Stamp Act, 1899 for the registration of sale deeds; the land value and sales for past three years in and around the vicinity;

  • It is then doubled for rural areas (no such multiplication for urban areas).
  • If a forcible acquisition is done then 100% extra compensation is being given.
  • If in urgency conditions, then 75% additional compensation is given to the land owners.

Under R&R, Every resettled area is to be provided with certain infrastructural facilities like 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:

land for a house as per the Indira Awas Yojana in rural areas or a constructed house of at least 50 square meters plinth area in urban areas
a one-time allowance of Rs 50,000 for affected families; and
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.

  • In order for a safer execution of rehabilitation and resettlement scheme, an administrator is appointed who prepares a report and makes the gram sabha (In rural areas) and equivalent bodies (In urban areas) to hear and express their grievances.
  • it is then forwarded to collector who forwards the same to commissioner appointed for this scheme by the government.
  • Once the report is being approved then it is the duty of the administrator to execute and the role of the commissioner to supervise.
  • In case of acquisition of more than 100 acres, an R&R Committee shall be established to monitor the implementation of the scheme at the project level. In addition, a National Monitoring Committee is appointed at the central level to oversee the implementation of the R&R scheme for all projects.
  • In case the land is being privately purchased (100 acres in rural areas and 50 acres in urban areas), an application must be filed with the Collector who shall forward this to the Commissioner for approval. After the application has been approved, the Collector shall issue awards as per the R&R scheme.

Key features and exceptions:

  • It is not clear whether Parliament has jurisdiction to impose rehabilitation and resettlement requirements on private purchase of agricultural land.
  • The requirement of a Social Impact Assessment for every acquisition without a minimum threshold (in value terms) may delay the implementation of certain government programmes.
  • Projects involving land acquisition and undertaken by private companies or public private partnerships require the consent of 80 per cent of the people affected. However, no such consent is required in case of PSUs.
  • The market value is based on recent reported transactions. This value is doubled in rural areas to arrive at the compensation amount. This method may not lead to an accurate adjustment for the possible underreporting of prices in land transactions.
  • The government can temporarily acquire land for a maximum period of three years. There is no provision for rehabilitation and resettlement in such cases.
  • 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.
  • The provisions of this Bill shall not apply to acquisitions under 16 existing legislations including the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, the Railways Act, 1989, etc.

Criticism:

  • Heavily loaded in favour of land owners and ignores the needs of landless poor Indians
  • intentionally good but seriously flawed
  • No limit on total compensation or number of claimants
  • Curtails free market transactions between willing sellers and willing buyers
  • may lead to inflation in Land prices
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