Tribes’—the Bill says, “In case of acquisition or alienation of any land in scheduled areas, the prior consent of the gram sabha concerned or the panchayats or the autonomous district councils, at the appropriate level in scheduled areas under the fifth schedule of the Constitution, is mandatory.”
We have also pushed for changes in the definition of the term ‘project affected people’. It now includes those who have been working in agricultural lands set to be acquired for industrial use. The government has also agreed to include a new clause in the Bill to encourage states to lease land for projects instead of acquiring it. The new clause leaves it to the states to decide on whether they would be exercising the option to lease land for any project.
However, the government has not supported the panel’s suggestion of having a multi-member committee at the district level to decide on the market value of the land. The Bill empowers the district collector to decide the market value of land in his/her district. The Bill now stipulates a compensation of four times the market value of the land being acquired, payable to landowner while the earlier version proposed a compensation of six times the market value.
We have agreed to support the Land Acquisition Bill as it is long overdue. The proposed law would replace the 117-year-old Land Acquisition Act of 1894. It will also integrate acquisition and resettlement & rehabilitation (R&R) in one policy for the first time ever. The new law is the need of the hour.
The author, a Lok Sabha member, was chairperson, Parliamentary Panel on Land Acquisition Bill
(As told to Sandip Das)
It is ironical that, on the one hand, the government is trying to resolve and speed up the land acquisition process for large projects through the Project Monitoring Group set up to assist Cabinet Committee on Investments while, on the other, it is trying to bring a Bill that will further protract the process of land acquisition. One of the commonest reasons for delay faced by large projects is land acquisition.
The Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land