Examples of hassle-free acquisition of land for public purpose served also with private sector participation may not abound but are already quite a few. While political scuffling over lack of a consent clause in case of the government’s acquisition of land for private and PPP projects in several areas has come in the way of the Modi dispensation’s bid to get its amendments to the land acquisition law passed by Parliament, official sources highlight many instances of the government getting the requisite land for industrial and infrastructure projects, without annoying any stakeholders.
Some of these will be popularised by the department of industrial policy and promotion as “best practices” for land acquisition. One example is the land acquisition model for the proposed Shendra-Bidkin Mega Industrial Park near Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Gujarat’s Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR), both part of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor. The Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation’s (GIDC) model is another one chosen among the best practices in an Accenture study for the DIPP.
In case of the Shendra-Bidkin project, of the total area required of 84 sq km, 32 sq km (or 3,200 hectares) of land has already been acquired for the first phase, to be spread over 40 sq km.
Bhushan Gagrani, CEO, Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), told FE: “There was no compulsory acquisition at all. We took all the land owners into confidence and made them feel that they were co-owners of the project. We gave them (around 3,500 owners of plots of land), not at the government rate, but more than the market rate and all of them are satisfied.”
He said land being an emotive issue, another attraction for the farmers was the proposal that after developing basic infrastructure in the acquired land area, a certain portion (say around 15%) of every land owner’s land would be returned to her to ensure she has a sustainable income and that she is not detached from the land. This, he said, was made part of the compensation package. Skill development programmes for landowners were also an attractive feature. While permanently irrigated land and land with houses/dwellings were excluded for acquisition, mostly single crop or barren land was taken.
The “land pooling and town-planning” model in the Dholera SIR is another success story. Here, land parcels, acquired from different owners were pooled and developed. A portion of the developed land was given back to the original owners. The total proposed area for the SIR is 920 sq km, of which the developable area is estimated at 568 sq km.
In Dholera SIR, the Dholera industrial park will be an early bird project and this “activation area” spanning 22.5 sq km area was chosen due to immediate land availability and future prospects. “When we did the town planning, we invited suggestions and objections. We decided against any forcible land acquisition. All landowners willingly gave their land due to the gains they were making on the compensation and the future prospects,” said Ajay Bhadoo, CEO, Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board.
As per the Accenture study, GIDC is another model worth emulating. In this case, the corporation has given the land owners the option to negotiate and also offered developed land as part of the compensation. “Price determination (is) based on market prices determined by a scientific method,” the study said, adding that skill up-gradation centres and the provision for guaranteed employment of one member of each family whose land is acquired were other attractions in the GIDC model. GIDC has a land bank of 36,000 hectares and has a portal with exhaustive information on land.
Good practices from other states mentioned in the Accenture study include that of Haryana and Andhra Pradesh. Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation has mentioned land rates on its website and Andhra Pradesh has offered guaranteed employment in the industries being set up on the acquired land to one member of land owner’s family.
In case of the Shendra-Bidkin project, to obtain the consent of all land owners, MIDC officials and Aurangabad district administration authorities spent over two years holding talks with stakeholders, including political parties and farmers. People were told about the project’s benefits as well as the earnings from the interest on the compensation and this was contrasted with the relatively low earnings from farming.
After negotiations, some 3,200 hectares (over 7,900 acres) of land were purchased by MIDC for an average of Rs 23 lakh per acre (or a total cost of around Rs 1,840 crore), over double the market rate. In cases of some cultivable land acquired for purposes of ensuring contiguity, compensation was a bit more. So, though activists tried to organise protests, they failed to get the farmers’ backing.
With the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 stuck in the Rajya Sabha, the government last week decided to prorogue the Upper House in order to be able to re-promulgate the land Ordinance.