It was not too long ago that we celebrated India’s passage of a new Land Acquisition Act to replace the very antiquated one of 1894. However, the new act is facing threats of being watered down, with the new Modi government’s pro-corporate stance, specifically the Ministry of Rural Development. At present, the law requires the consent of at least 70% of those affected in public-private partnership (PPP) projects as well as a time-bound Social Impact Assessment for land acquisitions. The ministry seeks to dilute this provision.
On 29 August 2013, India’s Lok Sabha (Parliament) passed the Land Acquisition, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation Bill. For it to become law, the bill needs to be passed by the upper house. When passed, farmers will receive as much as four times the market rate for land.
This bill has been a long time coming, since many unjust and forcible land acquisitions – land grabbing – have been made in the name of the archaic Land Acquisition Act of 1894, which clearly needs to be superseded by a just and humane legislation. Some of these unfair land acquisitions have been quashed by the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The bill was introduced in Parliament in September 2011 by the Ministry of Rural Development.
AVARD, in its 2012 land reform monitoring report (as part of the LWA CSO land reform monitoring initiative), notes that the bill “does have some positive provisions such as adequate compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement, prior consultation, social impact assessment. However, it cautions that while the bill is expected to promote the well-being of rural poor and areas, this piece of legislation shall in the end facilitate land acquisition for industrialization, development of essential infrastructure facilities and urbanization, without any vision of rational land use and any consideration for rural people, their livelihoods and lives.”
The bill is available online at the Ministry of Rural Development’s website. Click here.
To read the news article (from Reuters) on the bill, please click here.
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is preparing a National Land Reform Policy in favor of the poor and landless. This policy would support land rights of different marginalized groups: nomadic tribes, Scheduled Tribes landless families, and women. This is the result of the pressure from land rights activists in India. Last October 2012, Ekta Parishad organized Jan Satyagraha, a non-violent foot march, where some 100,000 landless and poor people demanded government to implement land reforms. Land rights advocates are hoping for the actual unveiling of this policy, as well as the passage of the long-awaiting land acquisition bill (to supersede the highly outdated 1894 Land Acquisition Act) and the food security bill.
For more information, please read: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/upa-national-land-reform-policy-eyes-on-votes-from-landless-poor-india-today/1/285133.html