Amid walk-out by the opposition, the Jharkhand assembly on Saturday passed amendments to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (also called Land Acquisition Act, 2013). The amendments pertain to waiving off social impact assessment (SIA) for acquisition by the government for 10 specific purposes. Besides, it also provides for compensation to be given within six months.
Some of the areas in which the SIA requirement has been waived off include schools, colleges and universities; hospitals; panchayat bhavans; housing for poor; railway line and electrification. The land would be acquired with the consent of the gram sabha concerned and, in scheduled areas, the existing laws under Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, the bill provides.
The amendments come in the wake of the earlier proposed amendments in the Chhotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act to the same effect, which had to be withdrawn amid tremendous opposition. The bill was returned to the government by the Governor eight months after it was passed late last year. The bill was completely withdrawn in the current monsoon session.
The proposed amendments in the Tenancy Acts had provided that the government could take land for purposes similar to mentioned in this list from the tribal, without changing the ownership rights of the tribal. However, the provision was withdrawn as the government could not convince people that their land would not be taken away. The decision to amend the Act was taken in a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Council.
Leader of Opposition in the House, Hemant Soren, reminded the government that it had just faced red face in the Assembly over CNT and SPT amendments and, hence, it should not be in a hurry to discuss these provisions at length. “I realise that it is the genie of the MoUs signed by the government during the Momentum Jharkhand. The government is now desperate to show that it can acquire land and give it to the corporate.
Talking to reporters outside the House, Soren said that the genie will now suck the blood of Jharkhand’s people, while the companies would benefit”. He assured that JMM would mount a much stronger fight than what it did last time. Like in the case of anti-conversion bill, the opposition wanted it to be sent to the select committee, but the demand got rejected by voice vote. The opposition then staged a walk-out. Earlier, BJP MLA Biranchi Narayan said that the changes were necessary, as SIA ate up lot of time in successful implementation of the projects. (EOM)