Union Cabinet approves amendment to Land Acquisiton Act

Announcing the decision, Arun Jaitley said, “In a nutshell, we have tried to achieve a balance."

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: December 30, 2014 4:18 pm
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

In a bid to ease the process of acquiring land, the Union Cabinet on Monday recommended the promulgation of an ordinance to amend the Land Acquisiton Act, 2013, by including five new categories of projects that would not require prior consent from affected families as well as Social Impact Assessment (SIA). These include projects related to defence, rural infrastructure and industrial corridors.

The sensitive provisions relating to compensation, relief and rehabilitation have been left untouched. The amendment also includes 13 legislation that are currently exempted under the purview of the Act in the compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement provisions.

The Indian Express had reported last week that the rural development ministry had been directed to get the draft ordinance vetted by the law ministry so that it could be cleared by the Cabinet this week.

graphAnnouncing the decision, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “In a nutshell, we have tried to achieve a balance… higher compensation will continue… procedural rigours would be loosened or eased in relation to the five defined purposes.”

When the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, was brought in last year by the previous UPA government, it was touted as a landmark legislation. But the Act has been criticised by the industry and certain other sections for making land acquisition more complicated and tedious.

The NDA government has amended Section 10(A) of the Act to expand the list of projects that would not require SIA and prior consent of affected families. These include projects for defence and defence production, rural infrastructure including rural electrification, affordable housing and housing for the poor, industrial corridors as well as infrastructure and social infrastructure projects including public private partnership projects wherein the ownership continues to vest with the government.

No other changes have been made to the consent and SIA requirements, except in the case of these five categories. Under the Act, prior consent is required from 70 per cent of the affected families if land is being acquired for PPP projects and from 80 per cent in case of private companies. SIA is mandatory and has to be completed within six months.

“… It has been reported that many difficulties are being faced in its implementation. In order to remove them, certain amendments have been made in the Act to further strengthen the provisions to protect the interests of the ‘affected families’.

In addition, procedural difficulties in the acquisition of lands required for important national projects required to be mitigated…..Proposed amendments meet the twin objectives of farmer welfare, along with expeditiously meeting the strategic and developmental needs of the country,” said a government release.

It also claimed that certain provisions prolong the procedure for land acquisition, and “neither the farmer is able to get benefit nor is the project completed in time for the benefit of society at large.”

The changes will come into effect from January 1, 2015.

Explaining the urgency to bring in an ordinance, Jaitley said the government had to amend the Act before the end of the year since Section 105 of the Act, which provides for excluding 13 central legislation, would otherwise have to be notified by December 31. The 13 legislation included Land Acquisition (Mines) Act 1885, Atomic Energy Act, 1962, Railway Act 1989, National Highways Act 1956 and Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978.

Jaitley said the higher compensation and R&R package would apply to the 13 exempted legislation as well. “With regard to the process of land acquisition, the priority of the government was that the interest of farmer whose land is to be acquired is paramount,” Jaitley said.
Currently, the Act also contains an urgency clause — related to natural disasters and wars — where the acquisition of land is exempted from the stringent requirements laid down in the legislation.

The NDA government began the process of easing the Act soon after it came to power in May this year. In July the ministry had sent a report to the PMO based on inputs received from states suggesting changes to the Act which would make it more industry-friendly, including doing away with the consent clause for PPP projects, removing the requirement for mandatory SIA study and relaxing the retrospective clause.

However, the BJP’s push to amend the Act has come despite its full support to the Bill in Parliament in 2013, after its suggestions were accepted. The Bill was brought to Parliament after the then UPA government held consultations with opposition parties and the BJP’s two key suggestions were accepted, following which the party extended its support.

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  1. D
    Dharmesh
    Feb 24, 2015 at 10:04 pm
    Land acquisition bill is not in favor of Farmer. It will finish farming land which is already less compare to potion. We should also take care about good project which boost economy and farmer because farming contribute 15 % in our Economy.
    Reply
  2. A
    akshay
    Feb 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm
    this policy is good..
    Reply
  3. N
    Navin
    Jan 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm
    our land were acquired in 1984, we did not accept the compensation, now we have filed case for retaining ownership of land and government has not taken the possession of the land.Will we able to retain ownership under section 24 of LAAR,2013
    Reply
  4. P
    Paramjeet Berwal
    Jan 2, 2015 at 5:55 am
    very well saidsocialistcenter.blogspot
    Reply
  5. S
    Sanjay Tomar
    Mar 18, 2015 at 5:32 am
    The government who speak for development in the name of job making Indian people making slave nothing more. In private Job no better ry, no Job security, on exploitation government have no control on private company, corporate. In aother county have better control on private company our government is dummy nothing else only to exploit people in the hands of industrialist.The government who speak for development we have problem in the name of development they are taking land of farmer forcefully which is wrong. Corporate exploiting people just like slave nothing else. Development of Industry does not mean of development of people. BJP is cheater Government making to people fool in the name of development transferring every thing from people to corporate which can't be tolerate. We need to finish BJP as soon as possible if they continue like this.
    Reply
  6. S
    shekhar
    Jan 8, 2015 at 2:34 pm
    Can any body read the amendments changes? It's pure cheating of language by bjp. Can any body find the meaning hidden in subsution of section 105 point 3. It clear that retrospective clause 24 will not be applicable to 4th schedule list. Earlier it was stated in such a language where it was meant that all clause of new act will be applicable if it reduces the compensation. But now amendments says new act will be applicable from 1st Jan 2015. What about section 24 for 13 enacted list?. I
    Reply
  7. J
    Jatinder Pal
    Feb 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm
    Land acquisition bill with this amendments wouldn't be too good for poor people as it would give industry more power to acquire land of farmers but fact is 70% of indian economy is based upon agriculture favouring industry in comparison to farming wouldn't be a fruitful decesion
    Reply
  8. V
    VIVEK CHOUDHARY
    Dec 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm
    First they support this bill for votes as a sympathisers of farmers now they amend it for the benefit of private companies.....they even do not consider the difficulties faced by farmers... instead of giving farmers their right of fair compenstion, BJP now returning favor for corporate funding......very well done jaitley ji bech do kisan bhaiyon ko unki zameen k sath
    Reply
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