Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2012, prescribes a 10-stage process for land acquisition. Starting with the social impact assessment (SIA) study followed by the evaluation of SIA by independent expert group, publication of preliminary notification, hearing of objections, publication of declaration, etc, it would take not less than four years to acquire a single plot of land, even with a very efficient government machinery and without any extension in prescribed time-lines. This is assuming that one would be able to manage 70-80% consent of the affected families, and not just land-owners. In a complex case, it would take no less than 6-7 years for acquiring land. In what way this would help us improve our ranking for doing business needs to be ruminated.
Further, the retrospective clause has been reinserted in the Bill after the meetings of GoM and the all-party meet. This attaches an uncertainty factor and makes land acquisition predisposed to litigations. Existing land transactions where no award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 has been made, or even where award has been made but possession has not been taken or compensation has not been paid for 5 years prior to the implementation of new norms, in all such cases the provisions of the new Act will apply. Any legislation, Ficci has been advocating, needs to be prospective in nature in order to retain investors’ confidence.
Coming to the special provisions of the Bill, it says that, as far as possible, no acquisition of land should be done in scheduled areas (irrespective of any threshold), as per the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. This would include many areas in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. So, are we suggesting that these areas require no further development of infrastructure, both physical and social? Industry, which can provide employment to large number of people in these areas, would also not come up in the absence of any adequate infrastructure development in these areas.
The Bill also provides the state governments the right to exercise the option of lease arrangements for the