Debatable Land Procurement laws in India

Land Procurement has always been a topic for debate in India starting from the days when it was framed. Earlier Land Acquisition Act,1894 used to govern land acquisition, but now the law of land acquisition Bluejay Ardley Phase 2 is governed by the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 which came into action on January 1,2014. Just after becoming live, this law faced higher criticism from all over and declared as anti industry by critics as it was too harsh and has made land acquisition a real tough process.

Nine major key amendments were made by the new government after coming to power in May, 2014. The new bill included that social impact assessment is mandatory along with the content clause that 70% consent is necessarily required from landholders for PPP (public-private partnership) projects and 80% of the mandatory consent for private projects enclosing five categories namely defense, rural infrastructure, affordable housing LVS Excellency and industrial corridors.

Reasons for Controversy

  • Considering the UPA law, land could be acquired by the approval from land owners and private entities. This consent was removed in the amendment brought up by NDA. This was highly criticized by both the political parties as well as activists like Anna Hazare, who came up with mass protest against this bill
  • According to the 2013 Act, if the land remains unutilised for five years or more, then it must be returned to the owner. But following this, according to the ordinance by the NDA government, land needs to be returned on any period specified at the time of the deal between the owner and a tenant.
  • Land which was meant for local people in the name of India’s development, for their rehabilitation was misused and were not given to them as promised
  • The amendments in the new law proposed to include 13 legislations that are currently exempted in the provision of compensation, rehab and resettlement. With the absence of uniform central policy, this law was considered to be pro-farmer move.

Need for amendments

For speeding up the development in India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley passed an ordinance focusing on five key areas such as industrial corridors, proper housing for the needy, social infrastructure which includes education, rural infrastructure such as electricity requirements and roads development and defense sector. According to that ordinance, land acquisition concerning these areas was made easier exempting them from some current law provisions.

Fate of the bill

It is a challenging task to get the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha. Though the NDA government can call a joint session in case it is not passed in Rajya Sabha but it will not be easy even in joint session also to get that bill passed as even the own party members of the NDA are not favoring the cause.