Economy

Govt will not buy land for private firms; to keep off irrigated parcels

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018

land

Draft Land Bill for market value-based compensation





Applying balm on a festering sore, the new draft Land Acquisition Bill proposes that the Government will not acquire land for private companies for private purposes or multi-cropped irrigated land. Companies will have to buy it themselves.

The draft Bill says that the public purpose once stated cannot be changed. But it also says that if the land is not used in five years for the purpose for which it is acquired, it should be returned to the original owner.

Most of such land is in Punjab, Haryana, West Bengal, Bihar and poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, which has become a political hotspot on land acquisition issues.

Called the Draft National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill, 2011, it proposes a comprehensive compensation policy. In the urban areas, the amount should be not less that twice that of the market rate, whereas in the rural areas, it should be not less than six times the original market value.

In public domain

The draft Bill has been put in the public domain for inviting comments within a month.

Among its other salient features is a comprehensive rehabilitation package for land-owners and livelihood losers, including the landless, particularly the Scheduled Tribes that are primarily dependent on the land being acquired.

At a time when many State governments are facing local resistance on the land issue, the draft Bill aims to make relief and rehabilitation (R&R) an integral part of acquisition.

“The draft Bill seeks to balance the need for facilitating land acquisition for various public purposes including infrastructure development, industrialisation and urbanisation, while at the same time meaningfully addressing the concerns of farmers and those whose livelihoods are dependent on the land being acquired,” Mr Jairam Ramesh, Union Rural Development Minister, said in his introduction to the draft.

He said the draft Bill will enjoy primacy over specialised legislations such as for highways, Special Economic Zones, Defence, and Railways.

Livelihood Issues

To safeguard the livelihood of those affected, the Bill proposes to make a Social Impact Assessment mandatory if the acquired area is equal to or more than 100 acres.

It also proposes that the consent of 80 per cent of the project-hit families be made mandatory if the Government acquires land for use by private companies for stated public purpose or public-private partnerships, other than that for national highways.

The draft Bill authorises the Government to invoke an “urgency clause” to acquire land for national defence and security purposes, R&R needs in the event of emergencies or natural calamities, and in “rarest of rare” cases.

Admitting that there is “asymmetry of power and information between those wanting to acquire the land and those whose lands are being acquired”, Mr Ramesh said “that is why there has to be a role for the Government to put in place a transparent and flexible set of rules and regulations and to ensure its enforcement.”

Possibility of speculation

While most industry players said they would react after going through the full draft, Mr Navin M. Raheja, Chairman, Raheja Developers, said that acquisition of land should be based on the willingness and price offered by majority of land owners (70-80 per cent) through an open and transparent manner.

However, in his capacity as head of industry chamber, Assocham, Mr Raheja was sceptical about the proposed compensation. “Paying compensation six times the best of the registered sale in the area in last three years will only increase the cost of setting up industrial establishments, infrastructural projects and townships.” He said this could lead to speculation by “unscrupulous investors.

Published on July 29, 2011

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