Published On: Sat, Aug 5th, 2017

Goa land acquisition bill raises eyebrows

Land_Reuters1

 By Accommodation Times Bureau

The Goa Requisition and Acquisition of Property Bill, 2017 that will have significant ramifications for private property owners has raised a few eyebrows, as legal experts and others are trying to unravel the intricacies of the government’s motives behind the proposed act.

Revenue minister Rohan Khaunte moved the bill in the Goa legislative assembly on Thursday, seeking to empower the government to requisition land for transport facilities, promotion of tourism, affordable housing, government offices, establishment of industrial estates and medical facilities.

“The bill needs to be studied in detail, as prima facie, it has implications for property owners and the public and it may not be in their interest,” Ramakant Khalap, former chairman of the law commission, said.

According to the bill, the government will requisition any property it deems suitable for any public purpose by an order issued in the official gazette and local newspapers. The property will be released, if not acquired under section 6, after 15 years.

Many are aware that the central land acquisition act imposes heavy financial burden on the government for land acquisitions related to projects. This bill may be a route to bypass the central act, Khalap said.

A few others agreed with the former law commission chairman. “Possibly, the government finds it difficult to acquire land under the new act and is expecting it to be diluted. But this is a dangerous weapon in its hands as far as people’s properties are concerned,” Cleofato Coutinho, former law commission member, said.

The bypassing of the central act will hit farmers, land users and others, says Ramkrishna Jhalmi, convenor, Goa Kull Mundkar Association (GKMA), a tenants body. “The central act provides fair compensation to farmers who were being cheated in the past. The proposed bill will be unfair to stakeholders,” he said.

The government may not release the requisitioned land once it takes possession of it. “Once the land is acquired by the government, there is no guarantee that it will returned,” Jhalmi said.

The state government is also eyeing comunidade land for various projects, but leaders of the age-old institutions pointed out that comunidades are absolute private villages. “There is no legal provision in the state over owners and holders of land in absolute private villages. There is no legally established constitutional collateral federal relationship with centre and state for state landlordism in these villages,” Andre Pereira, secretary of association of components of comunidades, said

The bill also has various clauses, including powers to ensure repairs to the premises requisitioned for use. “If this is the case, the property owners will face the burden of repairing their premises,” Khalap said.

Legal experts said that the bill has to be studied comprehensively before it is approved. “The bill should not be passed in a hurry and it would be better to refer it to a select committee,” Khalap said.

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