Since the Modi led BJP government introduced a new bill to amend the existing act on Land Acquisition laws in India, a severe controversy has dawned. We have had two acts for all the issues corresponding to the ‘land acquisition’. This recent development in the parliamentary politics to amend the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 has drawn mass attention. The issue is facing strong protest from the opposition and other concerned civil society groups while the government is yet reluctant to hold it back or bring about any further changes.
There is lot of discussion on land acquisition. When the act was made we walked shoulder to shoulder with you: PM in the Lok Sabha
— PMO India (@PMOIndia) February 27, 2015
Here’s a glance at everything about the controversy:
What’s the issue?
On Tuesday, March 10, this amended Land Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha as the NDA government managed to get agreement from all its allies, which form the majority. But now the government has been facing extreme opposition from nine parties in the parliament. These parties include the Congress, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Samajwadi Party (SP), DMK, JD (U), CPI (M), CPI, Kerala Congress (M). MPs of these parties would head to meet the President and would walk on Tuesday, March 17 at 6 pm to mark their protest and disagreement with the bill.
The Bill is yet to be passed in the Rajya Sabha, where the odds of getting the bill passed are not in the favour of the NDA government.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar has begun a Satyagraha to force the government to take back the bill. Congress leader Mr. Jairam Ramesh said, “All the opposition parties in the Rajya Sabha and the Shiv Sena and the Biju Janta Dal from the NDA are against these amendments. These amendments will not get support in the Rajya Sabha and the bill is only for the businessmen to make a profit. ” Anna Hazare had also urged the political parties to stand for the bill.
Land Acquisition in India
The post-independence period in India has witnessed development-induced displacement on a large scale. This term stands for the displacement of communities from a particular region on a large scale for the purpose of building dams, canals, industries and much more, all for the sake of development. And this is where we find the roots of land acquisition and related issues in India. All these happenings lead to the formation of some irk of laws to safeguard the rights of the displaced communities, to provide them apt compensation and to avoid any kind of rampancy in the entire procedure. However, no substantial resolution could ever be made and these displaced communities, to date, the face lack of sufficient monetary compensation. In case, a project is delayed or disrupted with whatsoever cause(s), there are further complications. Even these communities have to struggle for resettlement.
Currently, the act that governs the land acquisition in India is the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Its enforcement began from January 1, 2014 and was brought by the UPA government. Before this, we had the Land Acquisition Act of 1894.
The Act of 1894 had faced criticism for being draconian or harsh and weak as well; while the Act of 2013 is criticized because of its poor measures and it being not oriented towards better compensation and rights of the poor.
What’s in the new bill?
The suggested new bill, proposed by the Modi government, consists of nine amendments to the already applicable Land Acquisition Act of 2013. These are the amendments introduced:
- Social infrastructure projects under PPP would no more be in the exempted category in the consent clause.
- Panchayat’s approval would be mandatory for acquiring any tribal land.
- Government may acquire land for government bodies and corporations.
- Farmers would be given the right to appeal or complain over land acquisition hearing and redressal of grievances at the district level and formation of quasi-judicial authority.
- Ceiling on land for acquisition in industrial corridors.
- Hassle free mechanism for grievance redressal of the ones who lose their land.
- The term private entity would be replaced by private enterprise.
- The industrial corridor would be limited to 1 km on both the sides of the highways and railway lines. However, this is limited to the industrial corridors set up by the government only.
- Compulsory employment would be provided to one member of the farm labourers affected by land acquisition and displacement.
Amidst all these controversies and hassle, the Minister for Environment, Mr. Prakash Javdekar stated, “I hope that next week in Parliament (next five days) will be very fruitful. We have accepted all suggestions of various parties. Wisdom will prevail.” He also said that the proposed Land Acquisition Bill has been debated well and hoped that the amendments will be satisfactory.