Several farmers’ organisations have petitioned the government to incorporate in the land bill the provisions of Land Acquisition Act of 1894, which enable a landowner to appeal against a proposal to acquire his land.
Section 4 of the 1894 Act allowed the government to issue a notification expressing its intention to acquire a piece of land. However, Section 5A of the Act entitled any person, “interested in any land which has been notified under Section 4”, to file an objection to this move before a district collector within 30 days of the publication of this notification. The Act also stipulated that the person, qualified to file this objection “shall be deemed to be interested in land who would be entitled to claim an interest in compensation if the land were acquired…”
Sources said this was among the plethora of suggestions that have come up before senior ministers and the Joint Parliamentary Committee, which is examining The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
The Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, an affiliate of the RSS, in its memorandum to the committee, has sought a clear definition of “rural infrastructure”, which finds a mention in the bill. It has also called for a 51 per cent consent clause. BKS general secretary, Prabhakar Kelkar, had earlier said that “consent” be brought down to “a reasonable level that does not hurt the interest of landowner and does not impede growth.” The memorandum, however, does not mention the need for a social impact assessment for land acquisition.
Law Minister D V Sadanand Gowda indicated — in the course of an interview to Karan Thapar on the India Today channel — that the government was prepared to make changes to certain clauses.
He expressed the government’s willingness to retain the clause of the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, which provided that the land — unused for five years after its acquisition — would revert to its owners, except in the case of “long gestation projects” like atomic plants. He also indicated that with regard to the consent clause, the government was now open to the incorporation of a consent clause of 51 per cent, in case the Joint Parliamentary Committee made a recommendation to this effect.