To fast track land acquisition and avoid prolong litigation, the Gujarat government has decided to award 25 per cent additional incentive on compensation amount to any farmer in the state who gives his/her land for public purpose after arriving on an agreement with the acquiring body over the compensation amount. However, the new rule mandates that the farmer accepting the consent award will against the land acquisition later.
The government’s decision comes amid the problems it is facing in acquiring land for the high-profile Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet train and the ongoing farmers’ protest in Bhavnagar district against a state power utility’s bid to possess the land it had acquired around 20 years ago.
The Revenue Department’s resolution to this effect, which was issued earlier this month, is in accordance with the provision of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement commencement’ (Gujarat Amendment) Act, 2016.
A senior officer of the Revenue Department said that the 25 per cent incentive clause will help government authorities in pursuing farmers to expedite land acquisition process for projects in which the they want to acquire land on an emergency basis.
As per the resolution, dated April 4, “…it is advisable to acquire land with consent award….with an objective that farmers get ready to give land of their ownership voluntarily, the state government has declared to give 80 per cent of estimated compensation at the time of taking possession of the land, to pay remaining amount immediately after completing legal procedure and to pay 25 per cent incentive in addition to the market rate (the compensation amount mutually agreed between the acquiring body and the farmer).”
A senior officer said that the Gujarat government had made a general provision in this regard in the 2016 amended legislation on land acquisition. “This resolution is following that clause in the legislation related to land acquisition,” the officer added.
As per Section 23 A (1) of the amended land acquisition law, which was passed by the Gujarat Assembly in 2016, “…if at any stage of the proceedings, the Collector is satisfied that all the persons interested in the land who appeared before him have agreed in writing on the matters to be included in the award of the Collector in the form prescribed by rules made by the State Government, he may, without making further enquiry, make an award according to the terms of such agreement.”
According to the Revenue Department officer, with the consent agreement, many procedures that may delay land acquisition process could be avoided.
The resolution has also framed conditions under which the consent award with 25 per cent incentive can be declared. As per those conditions, the acquiring body and the farmer will have to sign an agreement on the rates discussed and agreed upon by them for the land to be acquired.
To ease land acquisition, the BJP-led Gujarat government had earlier amended some of the major clauses of the Centre’s land acquisition law enacted by the previous Congress-led UPA II government in 2013. In the amended Act, the Gujarat government relaxed some of the stringent provisions of the Centre’s law like mandatory consent of the farmers and conducting social impact assessment of the land to be acquired.