New land acquisition law comes into effect

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 2 2014, 14:26pm hrs
Following parliament approval in September last year, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, came into force on Wednesday, replacing more than a century-old Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Henceforth, states would able to frame laws in conformity with new legislation as the subject of land acquisition is listed under the concurrent list, where a central law prevails over the states in case of a conflict.

The state government can't reduce the compensation given to farmers (from te levels prescribed in the central law) in case of acquisition for industrial use, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh said.

He said with the application of the new legislation, the whole process of land acquisition and rehabilitation should not take more than 3-3.5 years in the country. With the improvement in the land records system, the industry would be able to buy land from farmers directly after 10 to 15 years, he noted.

The new land acquisition legislation also gives a one-year time frame to other 13 related legislation, mainly Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, 1973 , National Highway Act, 1956 and Land Acquisition (mines) Act, 1885 to make necessary changes conforming to the new legislation.

However, land acquisition for special economic zones (SEZs) would not be covered under the new legislation as SEZ is not not mentioned in the 13 related legislation.

The rural development ministry notified the rules of the new act after getting them ratified by the law ministry. These rules will lay down processes for the conduct of social impact assessement and will also provide details for obtaining the consent of affected people, an official statement said.

The new law stipulates mandatory consent of at least 70% of the affected people for acquiring land for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects and 80%for acquiring land for private companies involving projects aimed at public purpose.

It also mentions that farmers losing land in rural areas will get compensation four times the market value of the land and two times the market value in urban areas.

"There will be no forceful acquisition of land under this law. This legislation will provide lawful right of the farmers over their land and no right of forceful acquisition to government," Ramesh noted.

The new law would be treated as a model act that seeks to address problems of the industry regarding acquisition of land for setting up projects. It provides for land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced people.

In May last year, the parliamentary standing committee on rural development, headed by BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan, had recommended the government should not buy land for PPP projects or for private firms even when public interest is involved. The panel also sought a ban on acquisition of all farm land. However, the new law overturned the recommendations.