The 120 year old land legislative regime which started as “Whenever it appears to the Government the land in any locality is needed or is likely to be needed for any public purpose or for a company, a notification to that effect shall be published in the Official Gazette…” was done away by the preceding UPA government in 2013. The bill in its modern avatar is known as Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act (RFCTLARR) passed in 2013.
The current Narendra Modi led NDA government made several amendments to the bill renaming it as The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014.
The bill once passed, will help in improving the GDP of the country by an estimated 1.5 per cent as it will empower various departments and help in building irrigation canals, roads, power projects, infrastructure (such as agriculture hub). This will in-turn creates employment locally and will boost GDP. Upgrading land acquisition procedures for roads and power will help in clearing land issues in or before 300 days (including mining law and environment clearance for power projects). This will also attract private investments (which is currently reducing due to high debt to GDP ratio which stands at around 66 per cent thereby resulting in high inflation and interest rate) thus helping in higher growth of GDP.
Pros of the bill
- Transparency: The bill ensures transparency in the process of land acquisition & also rehabilitation of those affected by the acquisition of the land owned by them. Government has proposed to compensate the land owners by directly depositing the amount in the land owners’ account
- Increased compensation: Compensation has been increased at four times the market rate & will be applicable not only to the land owners but also to the people dependent on that land & will be directly deposited in the their accounts.
- Market rate: The current rate will be decided by the government taking into consideration the 3 year/3 month average sale price.
- Additional features: The bill will be a central legislation primarily. However, the states can make addition to the bill and can add more benefits.
Cons of the bill
- High cost of acquisition: Cost of acquisition will increase 3 times thereby making the projects unviable. Also the bill will delay execution of projects as one of the clause states mandatory requirement of consent from 80 percent of affected families for private sector and 70 percent of affected families for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects for acquisition of land.
- Government projects: In case of government acquisition, all the pre-set conditions will be nullified and the government can acquire land as per its wish. The sectors which have been exempted from approval are Railways, Highways, Defence, and Nuclear Projects, Low cost housing, Industrial area or parks.
- No job guarantee: The bill provides no guarantee to jobs for the members of the family who are giving away the land neither any guaranteed return of unused land (provided the owner repays the compensation to the government).
- Farming land: In case of green farm land, states will be the final decision maker