All about the new land acquisition Bill

Proposed law will replace the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 and unlike the British-era Act it provides for rehabilitation and resettlement as well

By Jyotika Sood
Published: Thursday 29 August 2013

What is the land acquisition Bill 2011 all about?

The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill, 2011 is a proposed law that lays down various provisions and directions to be followed while acquiring land anywhere in the country. The term 'land acquisition' means forcible acquisition of land from an unwilling seller and is distinct from a land purchase from a willing seller.

The Bill merges the land acquisition law with rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) provisions; the UPA government had earlier proposed two separate bills. The new proposed law replaces over-a-century-old Land Acquisition Act of 1894 which has various shortcomings—it has no resettlement and rehabilitation provisions for those displaced by the land acquisition and provides low rates of compensation to the land owners.

LARR Bill, 2011 was introduced in Lok Sabha on September 7, 2011. The present rural minister, Jairam Ramesh, has renamed LARR Bill, 2011 as “Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill 2012”. The government claims that the proposed law balances the need for facilitating land acquisition for various public purposes with the concerns of farmers and people whose livelihood depends on the land so acquired.

So far, the government has moved 165 amendments; the opposition has moved as many as 116

Important provisions of the law

  • Compensation in rural areas would be calculated by multiplying market value by two and adding assets attached to the land or building and adding a solatium. In urban areas it would be market value plus assets attached to the land and solatium
  • Developers to get the consent of up to 80 per cent of people whose land is acquired for private projects. For PPP projects, the approval of 70 per cent of land owners is mandatory
  • Multi-cropped, irrigated land cannot be acquired unless it is for defence or emergency caused by natural calamity
  • Land should be returned to original owner if not used in five years for the purpose for which it is acquired, subject to the refund of one-fourth of the compensation amount with interest from date of payment
  • The government will not acquire land for private companies for private purpose
  • The Bill mandates social impact assessment when government proposes acquisition of land over 40.46 ha, which should be conducted in consultation with the gram sabha (village council). It also provides for the appointment of an administrator for rehabilitation
  • Both land acquisition and resettlement and rehabilitation provisions of the Bill will apply to projects when government acquires land for its own use or on behalf of private companies for stated public purpose, including PPP projects. In case companies directly acquire over 40 ha from land owners, they will be responsible for resettlement and rehabilitation
  • The Bill also proposes amenities like schools, health centres and civic infrastructure in places where project-affected people are resettled
  • The urgency clause should be exercised in the rarest of rare cases like national defence or for resettlement purposes. This means no land acquisition can proceed without public hearing

(For details read: Is new land bill up to mark?)

What were the key suggestions of parliamentary standing committee on rural development on the Bill?

  • A restrictive definition of public purpose which means development of infrastructure by the public agencies with public funds only
  • No forcible acquisition for private projects, or for public-private partnership (PPP) projects, which cannot to be categorized as public
  • No forcible acquisition of agricultural land for non-agricultural purpose, including single crop growing farmland
  • All 16 Central Acts that are presently exempted from LARR 2011 provisions should be brought under the purview of the new Act
  • All studies like Environment Impact Assessment and expert committee appraisal is done in consultation with the gram sabhas and the corresponding reports should be made available to the gram sabhas
  • If land is not used till five years from the date of possession then it should be returned to the land owners
  • Re-examination of rehabilitation and resettlement provisions

(For details read: Prize for tillers, loss for industry)

Q What are the key concerns about this new law?

  • Gram Sabha and Basti Sabha don’t have legal right to decide the nature of public purpose. As a result misuse of land may occur.
  • Acquisition for Private and PPP Projects:lLand reform activists fear that the state would again play a role of facilitators under garb of PPP project
  • The Bill leaves it to the state governments to decide if non-irrigated, rain-fed, single-crop land can be acquired or not. India has 75% of the agricultural land as rain fed and most of it is single cropped. Such land is mostly held by Dalits, Adivasis and marginal farmers
  • Ministry of rural development wants to exclude 13 out of 16 Acts including Industrial Development Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, National Highways Act and others from the purview of the new Act
  • Role and Consent of Gram and Basti Sabha not required in case of linear projects such as railways, highways, major district roads, power lines, and irrigation canals
  • Ministry retains the provisions for state land bank. The provision is likely to be misused as large-scale acquisition took place in the past and later the so acquired land parcels were illegally transferred to corporations for real estate and other purposes

A selection of related reports and documents on Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.