Seeking to strike a balance between farmers’ welfare and the strategic and developmental needs of the country, the Union Cabinet on Monday urgently cleared an ordinance to unshackle defence, infrastructure and rural power projects caught in land acquisition procedures.
Through this executive order, the Cabinet has amended the >Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 .
The 2013 Act was the UPA 2 government's answer to forced acquisitions, the previous law’s silence on rehabilitation and re-settlement of displaced persons, low rates of compensation and the ‘urgency clause’ — which allowed complete dispossession without prior notice to affected families — under the Colonial 1894 land acquisition law.
Monday’s amendments have now relaxed the requirements of consent and Social Impact Assessment survey for projects in the following areas:
1. Defence and defence production
2. Rural infrastructure (including rural electrification)
3. Affordable housing
4. Industrial corridors
5. Social infrastructure projects including PPPs in which ownership rests with the government
The higher rates of compensation, as originally prescribed in the existing Act, would however continue.
The amendments, the government explained, were meant to mitigate “procedural difficulties” brought about by the original law in 2013.
The second important aspect of the amendment is to speed up developmental and security related projects without compromising on the benefits/compensation to be given to the farmers.
A statement said due to the “prolonged procedure for land acquisition, neither the farmer is able to get benefit nor is the project completed in time for the benefit of society at large.”
Land Act amendment widens scope of relief
Under the 2013 Act, compensations were hiked up to four times and twice the market value in rural areas and urban areas, respectively.
The 2013 law had also required consent from 70 per cent of the affected land owners in case of their lands being acquired for a public private partnership (PPP) project. If the acquisition was meant for private companies, consent from 80 per cent of the affected owners was required.
The provision also mandated a Social Impact Assessment survey to be held along with the process of getting the families' consent. The Act said its objective was to transform the process of land acquisition into a “humane, participative, informed and transparent” process.
Section 105 of the existing Act has been amended to include 13 statutes previously exempted from the rigours of payment of compensation. These Acts were listed in the Fourth Schedule of the existing Act.
The statutes are:
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958
Atomic Energy Act 1962
Damodar Valley Corporation Act 1948
Indian Tramways Act 1886
Land Acquisition Act 1885
Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act 1978
National Highways Act 1956
Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines Act 1962
Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1948
Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act 1957
Electricity Act 2003 and Railways Act 1989
The government said the amendment has brought a large percentage of farmers and affected families who were earlier denied higher compensation and resettlement and rehabilitation measures prescribed under the 2013 Act.
The present amendments bring all those exempted 13 Acts under the purview of this Act for the purpose of compensation as well as rehabilitation and resettlement. Therefore, the amendment benefits the farmers and the affected families.
What does the Ordinance mean ?
Ordinance envisages projects in defence, rural housing and industrial corridors as exempt from seeking 80% approval from affected persons.
|Farmers' compensation will remain the same — four times the market rate for urban areas, and twice for rural areas.|
Private hospitals, educational institutions and hotels will be included under definition of public purpose, and exempt from SIA.
|13 statutes that were previously exempted from the rigours of compensation have now been included.|
The Ordinance aims to make land acquisition easier for industries, as delays in approvals have restricted growth in industry and infrastructure, according to stakeholders.
Multi-crop land can be acquired for five purposes without consent of affected families: national security, defence, rural infrastructure, industrial corridors and social infrastructure