By Accommodation Times News Service
Govt Wants To Water Down Clauses That Favor The Public Citing Financial Burden And Procedural Problems after Centre Seeks Opinion On Issue
Deviating from its ‘socialistic’ approach, Kerala has put forward some suggestion before the Centre to relax the stringent provisions in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The Centre had asked the state governments to submit their responses in order to make changes in the act that was introduced by the UPA government. Kerala is yet to frame the rules, though the act came into force on January 1, 2014.
The state has opposed several clauses, including the mandatory consent from 80% affected families while acquiring land for private projects, which interestingly contradicts the fact that the state has been pursuing a policy of not acquiring land for private projects.
“The act provides for obtaining consent from 70% of affected families in the case of acquisition for PPP projects and 80% in the case of private ones. This will be a big ask and identifying land owners in the initial stage will often create problems. This will delay initial acquisition proceedings,” stated revenue minister Adoor Prakash’s note that was presented at the recent conference of revenue ministers in Delhi to discuss the changes required in the new act.
Under the previous act, even though the government had no business to acquire land for private companies, several cases of collusion between political class and the private entrepreneurs had resulted in public land ending up in private hands, like in the case of HMT land in Kalamassery ending up with a private real estate company. Experts feel that with this relaxed approach, the state has gone against the existing consensus among political parties on this issue.
The state has also opposed the innovative people-centric ideas like the social impact assessment (SIA) study and introduction of public hearings that has been made mandatory in all land acquisitions for public purpose. “The appointment of SIA unit in each district and the involvement of NFO agencies may also prove to be challenging. The introduction of public hearings at various stages may cause hindrance to the smooth conduct of the process,” the minister’s note said. The state also argues that frequent public hearing will scuttle the land acquisition process.
The devolution of powers to local bodies, by giving them a say in the land acquisition process, has also been opposed by Kerala. “Too much interference by local self-governing bodies may create a clash of opinions between departments,” the state said.
The state also contradicts itself by saying that land acquisition can be done after creating awareness about ‘the public purpose’ and by paying adequate compensation. Regarding compensation, the state is of the view that the new compensation, introduced by the act, will be a burden and it will create discrimination in compensation packages in urban and rural areas leading to disputes.