Land Acquisition Bill
By Accommodation Times News Service
Land Acquisition Bill Foreword
Land acquisition in the country has been a matter of debate and concern. This is mainly due to the following reasons: Land acquisition has till now been governed under a very old law. This old law resulted in indiscriminate land acquisition by the government, poor compensation to the poor farmers, often resulted in farmers becoming landless and also to loss of their livelihood. There have also been disputes and armed struggles when land has to be acquired for development projects such as highways and factories.
The Government of India is planning to bring out a new Land Acquisition Bill. With this the Government will balance the need for development with the rights of the farmers. Under this Bill, the rights of the landowner will be protected, when the Central or the State Governments acquire land from him for various developmental projects. The important part is that the land cannot be taken away from the landowners unless 80% of them agree to this. He will be provided adequate compensation which will be much higher than the existing rates. The landowner will also be provided additional livelihood options, and provided skill enhancement and training for this. The new law protects the
rights of the forest dwellers. The law provides new land for building homes when the old land is taken away. Also money is provided for building houses, if the provided homes are not Accepted. A subsistence allowance will also be paid to those whose land has been acquired. A new highway will soon pass near village Rampur. People are worried that their farm lands will be taken away by the Government for this highway. People from the neighboring village have told them that when such a road passed through their village, they did not get enough compensation. They lost their farms without any livelihood option. The people of Rampur village are worried about this. As they are sitting and discussing these issues, Bishamber Bhaiyya who works in a nearby Government office, passes by. He listens to them and stops.
He says: What are you discussing? What is your worry?
Rajan: We have heard about the highway project. We are worried that we will
lose our land.
Bishamber: No, that will not happen now, thanks to the new Land Bill which
the Government is going to bring.
Rajan: Really? Is that so? Tell us more about the Bill.
Bishamber: In most of the developmental projects, land is taken by the Government without adequate compensation to the land owner, as a result of which there have been many agitations. The Land Bill will see to it that the land is acquired in a transparent manner, by the Government for a public purpose and the land owner gets fair compensation for his land. In cases where the land owner cannot retain any part of his land, the Bill provides for resettlement of the land owner and his family.
Vishnu: What is the objective of this Bill?
Bishamber: The objective of the Land Bill is to give the land owner a legal right to fair compensation for his land which will protect his ownership. With this Bill, the land owner will not be a victim any more.
Vishnu: Why does the Government need our land?
Bishamber: The Government builds highways, power plants, hospitals, schools and factories which provide us opportunity for job and advancement. These projects need land which is provided by people like us who have land.
Vishnu: I have also heard that private companies are also buying land from people like us. What is this for?
Bishamber: This is because private companies along with the Government are also building these projects which benefit the people. The Government acquires land on behalf of the private companies for such projects.
Prakash: We have heard that when private companies take our land away, we are left with nothing.
Bishamber: This will not be so under the new Land Bill. The Government has taken care that the private companies will have to pay compensation when they take the land from the farmers.
Prakash: Who will decide about the resettlement and rehabilitation policy?
Bishamber: The State Governments will make these rules.
Vishnu: Can land be acquired for the projects without finding the impact of such projects on the people living nearby?
Bishamber: Under the new Land Bill, impact of the project on the people living nearby, how it will affect their livelihood, will the people be displaced, how much land is actually required, etc. has to be done before land can be acquired.
Karamchand: Will our views be taken in this process?
Bishamber: Yes, of course. Under the new Land Bill, it is compulsory for the Gram Sabha, Panchayat, Municipality or Municipal Corporation to not only inform the people about a new land acquisition, but also and discuss with them about the project and its benefits. Public hearing needs to be done and views of the people will be recorded.
Karamchand: How will we know about the date of public hearing?
Bishamber: The date and venue of the public hearing has to be publicized in advance in the local language.
Karamchand: How many people should decide about the project?
Bishamber: It is necessary that 80% of those who are about to lose their land should agree for the project. In case of a project where private companies are involved, 70% of the affected families should agree and say ‘yes’ to the project.
Vishnu: How will we know whether this report where our views are recorded, has not been influenced by the developers?
Bishamber: This report will be seen by independent experts who will check to see that this has not been influenced.
Prabhakar: Is there any time limit for this?
Bishamber: It has to be completed within 6 months.
Vishnu: What if information given by the private companies is not true?
Bishamber: Under the Land Bill, Governments and companies will be penalized if they give false information.
Karamchand: Many times such projects also affect our environment. Will the Land Bill do anything about it?
Bishamber: Yes. The Land Bill will take care of the effect of the project on the environment. After all these considerations, the Government will submit its report for issue of the first notice for acquiring land. The decision will be communicated to the Panchayat, Gram Sabha, Municipality, or Municipal Corporation in the local language so that the people know about the land acquisition.
Puran Chand: But I am so worried about the compensation. What will happen to that?
Bishamber: Dada, don’t worry about that. Under the new Land Bill, the Government will provide you four times the current market value of the land when the land is taken away from you. This is because the Government is concerned about your livelihood.
Ramesh: I stay in a town. What are the compensation rates for urban areas?
Bishamber: In urban areas, you will get two times the current market value.
However, the State Government can change these rates in both cases.
Vimla: I am worried. Will my family get a house to stay in once we are driven from our houses?
Bishamber: Vimla didi, with the new Land Bill, all affected families will be given houses. But for this to happen, you should be staying in your home for at least three to five years before the land is acquired.
Vimla: What if we do not want to accept the house offered by the government?
Bishamber: In that case, you will get one time financial assistance to build your house which will be Rs.1.5lakh or more.
Birju: What if I do not have land but my livelihood is affected?
Bishamber: Every affected family even without a home but dependent on the land and staying for a period not less than 3 years on the land will get the same benefits.
Birju: Will we get employment also?
Bishamber: Yes Girija, all affected families will be given the choice of annuity or employment. If employment is not forthcoming each of the affected family will be entitled to a one time grant of Rs. 5lakh. Or they can be provided with annuity payment of Rs. 2000 per month per family for 20 years. This will be adjusted for inflation.
Girija: The displaced people will need some kind of training for good employment opportunity. How will this happen?
Bishamber: The affected families will be given training and will be helped with developing their existing skills.
Rakesh: Will we get some kind of subsistence allowance?
Bishamber: Yes, all the displaced families will get Rs.3000/- per month for a period of one year. In the case of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes displaced from scheduled area, they will get an additional amount equivalent to Rs.50,000/-. Also, each of the affected families will be given transport allowance of Rs. 50,000/- and an additional Rs. 50,000/- as resettlement allowance.
Badri: What about artisans and or small traders or self employed persons like
Bishamber: They will get one time financial assistance. The state government will specify this amount from time to time. In any case this amount will not be less than
Badri: What about affected family having cattle and small shops?
Bishamber: They will also be given one time financial assistance. This will be decided by the state government, but it cannot be less than Rs. 25,000/-.
Vishnu: What is the time limit for payment of compensation to the affected people?
Bishamber: The compensation has to be paid within 3 months.
Vishnu: And what is the time frame for resettlement and rehabilitation?
Bishamber: Well, Vishnu, the money for the resettlement and rehabilitation have to be paid within 6 months from the date of the award. As far as allotment of land and houses and infrastructural facilities in new place of rehabilitation are concerned, they have to completed with 1.5 years of the date of land acquisition.
Birju: Can the possession of the land be given to the acquiring party before these payments?
Bishamber: No. In fact the District Collector of area can only take possession of the land when it is ensured that the full compensation and benefits for resettlement and rehabilitation are paid to the affected families.
Mahato: What does the Bill say for displaced persons if the land has been acquired for the purpose of irrigation or hydel projects?
Bishamber: In such a case, the rehabilitation and resettlement of affected families will have to be completed 6 months before submergence of the land. Also, affected families may be allowed fishing rights in the reservoirs.
Bhagwan Singh, a farmer asked: What about the agriculture family whose land has been acquired for irrigation project, which leaves the farmer with no land, or turns him into marginal farmer?
Bishamber: Bhagwan Singh, in such a case he will be given a minimum of 1.00 acre land in the command area of the project.
Mahato: Will it be the same in the case of scheduled caste and scheduled tribe?
Bishamber: No, they will be provided land equivalent to land acquired or 2.5 acres, whichever is lower.
Bhagwan Singh: What about the compensation to the farmers whose standing crops have been damaged in the process of land acquisition ?
Bishamber: The compensation for the damage will also be included in the total compensation amount.
Bhagwan Singh: What if the land is acquired for expansion of cities and urban areas?
Bishamber Singh: In such a case, first of all 20% of the developed land will be reserved for affected families, in proportion to the area of the acquired land at the price equal to cost. If this offer is acceptable to them an equivalent amount will be deducted from the land acquisition package payable to them.
Birju: Can the families be displaced without making full arrangements for proper living conditions in the places where they are to be resettled?
Bishamber Singh: No. The families cannot be displaced from the acquired land till their alternative sites are ready for occupation.
Devdutt: What all facilities need to be provided in the new village or settlement?
Bishamber Singh: Under the Land Bill, the state Governments will provide the
following facilities – schools, play grounds, health centres, roads and electricity connections, assured sources of safe drinking water, sanitation, village level post office, burial and cremation grounds, fair price shops, anganwadis, panchayat ghar, storage for seeds and fertilizers, places of worship and community centres .
Mahato: Is there a provision for the displaced forest dweller in the new
Bishamber Singh: Yes. The forest dwellers must be provided, wherever possible, forest rights on non-timber forest produce and common property resources close to the new place of settlement. In case any such families can continue to access forests or common property in the area close to the place of eviction, they must continue to enjoy their earlier rights to their sources of livelihood.
Brijesh:- And who will look after Rehabilitation and Resettlement?
Bishamber Singh: The state Government will prepare a plan for rehabilitating the affected families which will be approved by the District Collector of the area.
Bhagwan Singh: If agriculture land is acquired, will it not impact foodgrain production?
Bishamber: Under the Land Bill, the State Government will decide on how much land to be acquired without affecting agriculture and multi-crop land. Also, the State Government will have to cultivate an equal area of land elsewhere as agriculture land.
Mahato: Are there any special provisions for displaced scheduled caste and scheduled tribe families?
Bishamber Singh: It is possible that there will be no land acquisition in scheduled areas. If it is done, it is only because there is no other option. Even in this case, permission will be taken of concerned Gram Sabha or Panchayat or the autonomous district council.
Bhim Singh: What will be the compensation for the land acquired from
the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe families?
Bishamber Singh: In this case, 1/3 of the compensation amount will be paid in the starting. The remaining will be given at the time of possession of the land. The affected scheduled tribe families should be settled preferably in the
scheduled area in a compact block.
Bhim Singh : What about the fishing rights of the people?
Bishamber Singh: The affected scheduled tribes, scheduled caste families and traditional forest dwellers who already have fishing rights in a river or pond or dam in the affected area, will be given fishing rights in the reservoir area of the irrigation or the hydel project.
Ramesh: What action can be taken if the acquired land remains unutilized because I have seen such cases?
Bishamber Singh: In such a case, the states are empowered to either return the land to the owner or to the State Land Bank. The period of the return of the unutilized land will be 5 years.
Ramesh: What if due to some reasons the acquired land cannot be used for the purpose it was acquired for?
Bishamber Singh: In such a case, the concerned government can use the acquired land for another purpose.
Ramesh: What if the land is sold to a third party for higher price?
Bishamber Singh: In that situation, 40%t of the profit because of higher land price will be shared with the original owners.
Raghubir: Is it true that the displaced families are exempted from the payment of income tax and stamp duty?
Bishamber: Yes, this is correct. The displaced families do not have to pay income tax and stamp duties on the compensation amount.
Raghubir: We sometimes do not get any information about various schemes of the Central Government. Where can we get this information?
Bishamber: Information on various schemes of the Central Government is available at the Public Information Campaigns which the Central Government holds in the districts from time to time. Information can also be got from the Panchayat Ghar and the District Collector’s office about the different schemes.
Raghubir: Thanks Bishamber Bhaiya for giving all this useful information. We are not worried anymore because we know that the Central Government is thinking about our livelihood and well-being.