Saturday, 23 April 2016

Proposed Land Acquisition Law – whether boon or bane?


Acquisition of land for public utility shall always have social, economic and political repercussions and it is not an exception now. Inspite of the fact that our country is predominantly agricultural sector based, if our country need to grow, the growth has to be from non-agricultural sector such as manufacturing and services, for which there is no alternative other than to depend on the land to provide much needed infrastructure development.

With this idea, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were created; however, this concept did not work out effectively for obvious reasons, and there was a huge controversy over the land acquisition, resulting in several projects coming to a standstill. 

Recent studies reveal that delays in land acquisition is threatening to endanger investments in near term and may lead to create negative impact on our country’s economic growth, job opportunities and tax collection. 

In order to ensure that the owner of the land under acquisition shall have a right to fair compensation and the entire process will take place in a transparent manner, the Government brought into existence the ‘Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill 2013”. In this, it is said to have features like compensation for the owners to the extent of four times the market value in rural areas and twice in case of urban areas, and it provides that consent of 80% of the displaced owners is required in case of acquisition for private or public sector. Even though these features appear to be attractive for the beneficiaries, there are some other features associated with the bill, such as, no consent required in case of acquisition for PSUs, and that the Government can temporarily acquire land for three years and that there would be no provision for rehabilitation and resettlement in such cases, etc. 

No doubt this proposed Law may be much advanced and fair replacement to the existing Law, but it is all the more important to ensure that the proposed Law is properly implemented for positive results. 

Therefore, one has to wait and watch over a period of time to understand whether the proposed Law will really offer what it promised and will lay the road for fast track infrastructure development or simply remain beating round the bush.  

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