The Times Of India, June 9 2014, Thiruvanathapuram: The state has not framed the rules for the new land acquisition rules even six months after it came into effect. The provisions of the new act could not be effectively implemented unless the rules are framed.
In the latest turn of events, the government has reconstituted the committee entrusted to frame the draft rules for the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, after one of its members — a former additional secretary in the law department — withdrew from it on personal grounds.
Realizing that the snail pace of events would lead to further delay of projects requiring land acquisition, the revenue department has now adopted a ‘circular’ route for the aid of district collectors who are confused about which rules have to be applied for land acquisition, many of which are pending, including that for the highway widening.
In the latest move, the land revenue commissioner has sent a circular to all district collectors on May 20, giving some clarifications on the procedures to be adopted during land acquisition, till the new rules are in place. Even this circular says a clarification can emerge on demarcation of urban and rural areas, for which the new act proposes a different method of calculation for determining the compensation, only if the rules are made.
“The present scenario in the state is that there is no clear demarcation of rural and urban areas, which makes it difficult to calculate the compensation. Without proper rules, innumerable cases of litigation would arise, as the market value in rural areas is to be calculated as double that of urban areas according to the new act,” a senior official said.
But even the instructions given by the revenue department are impractical, going by the provisions of the new act. The land revenue commissioner has instructed district collectors to follow the provisions of the new act for all new land acquisition and even those initiated under the previous act in which the award has not been announced. But according to
the new act, a social impact assessment (SIA) study by a group, including the representatives of the local body concerned, is mandatory and that will have to be vetted by an independent expert group.
“The constituent members of the group will have to be specifically laid out in the rules. Otherwise, the very constitution of the SIA group can be challenged by the opposing groups,” a source said.
Once the drafting committee frames the draft rules, they will have to be vetted by the state-level committee headed by the chief secretary, and after the clearance from the law department, the rules should be forwarded to the assembly subject committee. They will be approved by the assembly only after that.