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Things you must know about the Land Acquisition Bill

September 09, 2013 09:29 IST

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012.

The Bill will replace the existing Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

State still holds crucial strings

The first steps towards drafting a new Bill that includes relief and rehabilitation (R&R) began under the NDA government a decade earlier. The government fell after readying the R&R policy.

The first UPA government introduced two proposed laws in the Lok Sabha in 2007. But these were redrafted after Jairam Ramesh took over as minister for rural development. The present version — The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012 — underlines the government's stated focus on fair compensation rather than fast acquisition

When land can be acquired: For private projects, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and for government projects, provided it is for a public purpose

What is public purpose for land acquisition: Strategic use by the armed forces, paramilitary, state police; for national security; for infrastructure projects, including activities listed under the department of economic affairs (infrastructure section), excluding private hospitals, private education institutions and private hotels; projects related to industrial corridors, mining, national investment and manufacturing zone, sports, healthcare, tourism and space programmes; housing projects for income groups specified by government, projects planned for development of village sites, residential areas for lower income groups in urban areas; projects involving agro-processing, warehousing, cold storage, marketing infrastructure, dairy, fisheries and meat processing cooperatives

Pre-condition for acquiring: For a private entity or a PPP project, state has to conduct a social impact assessment (SIA) and an environmental impact assessment (EIA), to identify the families who would be affected if land was acquired.

The private entity seeking land must then get the consent of 80 per cent of the affected families before it gets the government to acquire land for it. In the case of PPPs, the entity has to secure consent of 70 per cent of affected families. The third condition for getting possession of land acquired through state intervention is payment of compensation and fulfilling of R&R requirements 

Compensation package: Up to four times the market value in rural areas and twice the market value in urban areas; the Bill provides compensation to those dependent on the land for livelihood; where acquired land is sold to a third party for a higher price, 40 per cent of the appreciated land value (or profit) will be shared with the original owners. This would be exempt from tax and stamp duty

R&R package: The definition of affected family includes farm labourers, tenants, sharecroppers and workers in the area for three years prior to acquisition. The compensation would be Rs 5 lakh or a job, if available, to the affected family; subsistence allowance of Rs 3,000 a month for one year; miscellaneous allowances of up to Rs 1.25 lakh for each family

Dispute authority: A Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority to be established

Retrospective clause: Applicable on cases where no land acquisition award made. In cases where land was acquired five years ago but no compensation has been paid or no possession happened, the acquisition process to start again 

Lease option: The Bill allows industry to take land on lease, instead of buying. But the decision rests with the state rather than the landowner

Why industry is upset: Make the land acquisition process slower; compensation would raise costs of projects fivefold; retrospective application clause not favourable 

Multicrop farmland: Irrigated farmland out of acquisition ambit for non-farm uses. But state can decide to what extent farmland should be protected. The farmer does not have any say in the matter

Problematic clauses: No guarantee of jobs in R&R package; compensation calculated according to circle rates much less than market prices; no protection to farmland; state government to decide if unused acquired-land should be returned to the farmer or added to its land bank. This applies even if owners return the compensation

Sreelatha Menon in New Delhi
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