Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013
The Rights to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 is an Act of Indian Parliament that regulates land acquisition and provides laid down rules for granting compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to the affected persons in India. The Act aims to provide fair compensation to those whose land is taken away and brings transparency to the process of land acquisition to set up factories or building or infrastructural projects and assures rehabilitation to those affected. The Act establishes regulations for land acquisition as a part of India’s massive industrialization drive driven by public-private partnership. The Act replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, a nearly 120-year-old law enacted during British.
The bill was introduced in Lok Sabha in India on 7th September, 2011. It was passed on 29th August, 2013 in the Lower house of the Indian Parliament and on 4th September, 2013 in the Upper house of the Indian Parliament. The Act came into force on 1st January, 2014.
Amendment in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha on February 24, 2015 to replace an Ordinance. The following amendments were circulated by the government on March 9, 2015:
- The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 seeks to Amend the Act of 2013 (LARR Act, 2013).
- The Bill creates five special categories of land use: 1. Defence, 2. Rural Infrastructure, 3. Affordable Housing, 4. Industrial Corridors, and 5. Infrastructure Projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land.
- The Bill exempts the five categories from provisions of the LARR Act, 2013 which requires the consent of 80 per cent of land owners to be obtained for private projects and of 70 per cent of land owners for PPP projects.
- The Bill allows exemption for projects in these five categories from requiring Social Impact Assessment done to identify those affected and from the restrictions on the acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped land imposed by LARR Act 2013.
- The Bill brings provisions for compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement under other related Acts such as the National Highways Act and the Railways Act in consonance with the LARR Act.
- The Bill changes acquisition of land for private companies mentioned in LARR Act, 2013 to acquisition for ‘private entities’. A private entity could include companies, corporations and nonprofit organizations.
Positive and Negative Clauses of the New Land Acquisition Amendment Bill:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Social assessment which was mandatory before acquitting land has also been exempted in the Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha.
- As per the existing law, land was to be given back to the farmers 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.
- Bureaucrats were 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.
REACTION FROM OPPOSITION
There is a lot of protest among the opposition against the amendments proposed in the Land Bill 2013. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, went on a 24-hour fast in Gandhian style to protest against the Centre’s Land Acquisition Bill. He describes the Land Bill introduced in Parliament by Prime Minister Narendra Modi government as “anti-farmer” and “pro-corporate”.
However the main issue is that the timing of issue of Ordinance by the NDA government is wrong. By pushing the bill through last December he inadvertently gave time to the opposition to regroup and attack. The best course for Modi Government would have been to open discussions, smoke out the real opposition from potential friends, and then spring it on the Lok Sabha in the budget session for legislating it. Because the reality is the opposition to the Land Bill is largely political and not really about protecting farmers. Even if all infrastructure, manufacturing and health and education projects acquire land under the law prescribed in the NDA ordinance, not even 1 percent of available land in India will ever be acquired.
Thus, currently there are three options before the Modi Government- one is to retreat and withdraw the land bill and live to fight another day, second option is to make a virtue of necessity and constitute a joint select committee of Parliament to suggest improvements on the UPA version of the land bill and the third, and final, option is to fight it out till the bitter end. Now, it remains to be seen which way the Modi Government will head for.
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