Wednesday, September 27, 2017
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The protest against land acquisition at Singur, West Bengal, in 2006. Source:  Indiamike

As the proposed amendments in the central land acquisition law didn’t pass muster, the states have made their own rules to bypass regulations    

LAND ACQUISITION was at the centre stage till two years back. The controversial changes introduced by the NDA government in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, soon after it came to power in 2014, had a large section of the civil society and opposition parties rallying against it. 

While the proposed amendments are currently on hold, several states have brought about similar changes through Rules under Section 109 of the Act or have enacted their own state-level land acquisition laws to tide over opposition. 

An analysis of these efforts by state governments by the Centre for Policy Research-Namati Environmental Justice Program reveals that at least six state governments have enacted their own land acquisition laws based on suggestions of the NITI Aayog in 2015. These rules ease the process of land acquisition in favour of governments and investors.

While certain states have reduced the time period for the conducting the social impact assessment or done away with it entirely, there are others who have lowered the compensation award or modified the clause regarding return of unused land. Some states have also removed the requirement for consent from the land acquisition procedure.

Certain states have reduced the time period for conducting the social impact assessment or done away with it entirely

The land acquisition laws by Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Telangana, Rajasthan and Jharkhand directly adopt the amendments proposed by the 2014 land ordinance and exclude acquisitions for certain purposes from the purview of the central law. For instance, the RFCTLARR (Gujarat Amendment) Act, 2016, adopts all the changes proposed in the 2014 ordinance.

States are also adopting the clauses of the 2014 ordinance by drafting state rules, thereby ‘amending’ the central law. Progressive clauses like prior consent, public hearings or social impact assessment have been diluted. 

Land banks and Compensations

In Jharkhand, the state rules reduce the quorum of the gram sabha consent to one-third from half as required in the central law. Similarly, Odisha and Jharkhand are putting the unused acquired land into land banks instead of returning it to the original owners as required by the central law.

The Tamil Nadu law allows unused land to be taken for any other purpose while in Telangana, the time period for return of the unused land has been changed from five years to, either five years or “a period specified for the setting up of any project”, whichever is later.

Odisha and Jharkhand are putting the unused acquired land into land banks instead of returning it to the original owners

Even the amount of compensations to be paid for land acquisition have been reduced. In Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Tripura, the multiplying factor for rural land is fixed at 1.00 as against 2.00 specified in the central law.

Social Impact Assessment 

Gujarat and Telangana have exempted social impact assessment and consent for a range of projects, including those important for national security or defense, rural infrastructure, affordable housing for poor, industrial corridors and even projects under public-private partnerships. In Maharashtra as well, public-private partnerships have been excluded from the requirement. 

In Tamil Nadu, acquisitions carried out under four state laws are exempted. These laws include those for Harijan Welfare Schemes, acquisition for industrial purposes and highways. 

Video on the Land Acquisition Ordinance 2014

In UP, time period for conducting the social impact assessment and submitting the report has been reduced to two months from six months in the central law. Requirement to determine nature of the land, the size of holdings, ownership patterns, land prices, changes in ownership is also absent from the UP law.

In UP, time period for conducting the social impact assessment and submitting the report has been reduced to two months from six months in the central law

Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand have diluted the clause on acquisition of agricultural land. In Andhra Pradesh also, the limit on acquisition of non-irrigated farm land has been increased to 50 per cent of total land in the state. The central law has the limit at 5 per cent of the total land.

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