The State Information Commission (SIC) has directed the Tamil Nadu State Planning Commission to consider providing a share of the profits made by private and public sector undertakings to the people whose lands were acquired for their very establishment.
SIC Commissioner S Muthuraj gave the direction on November 25 while passing orders on a batch of petitions, which alleged that even though the lands of the petitioners were acquired decades ago, they are yet to receive the compensation.
By virtue of the powers vested under Section 25 of the RTI Act, Muthuraj recommended to the Member-Secretary of the Planning Commission to explore the feasibility of providing a share in the profits and recommend the same to the government for appropriate action.
Most of the lands that are being acquired comprise agricultural lands and the owners of these lands lack knowledge in money management and tend to spend it immediately and later they become penniless. To save them, the industrial or commercial establishments may consider giving a share in their profit, in addition to the compensation given as per the applicable law, Muthuraj said.
The industrial or commercial establishments, for which the lands were acquired, shall be mandated to create a separate fund, wherein money shall be remitted from a percentage of their profit. The amount accumulated to this fund shall be earmarked exclusively for the land donors and divided among them in proportion to the measurement of the land acquired. Such amounts shall be released on a quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis as dividends and shall be credited directly to their bank accounts, Muthuraj said.
Similar to employees’ stock option scheme provided under the Companies Act, an arrangement can be made for the benefit of the land owners, wherein the establishments, which started functioning in the land provided by the land owners, shall provide an option to them to subscribe to its shares equal to the extent of land provided by them. Moreover on perusal of the Constitution Assembly debates on Article 19(1)(f), The Constitution (Forty-fourth Amendment) Act, 1978 which repealed Article 19(1) (f) and inserted Article 300A and the provisions of Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Act, 2013 in its letter and spirit, can also be construed in such a way that the legislature always intend to protect the right and the relationship of the land owners with their lands. The government or its Special Purpose Vehicle/SIPCOT shall manage and monitor the working of the above mechanism and conduct frequent audits to ensure its transparency, the SIC said.
At present, the State and Central governments are engaged in acquiring land for Parandur Airport and NLC projects. The NLC shares are open for subscription. Thus the feasibility of dispersing these shares/profit among the land owners may be ascertained as a trial for effective functioning in the future projects. This model of land acquisition will lubricate the friction faced in the land acquisition process between the government and the land owners, the SIC added.
Muthuraj also said that for the fertile lands acquired, the government shall develop an equal size of wasteland for agriculture purposes.