The Times Of India, July 22 2014, Hyderabad: Worried over impending obstacles in the process of acquiring land for the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, the state government is now mulling seeking three major relaxations in the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, from the Centre.
Listing out the three clauses that are important to do away with, AP’s revenue minister, K E Krishna Murthy said that the most significant was the mandatory social impact assessment (SIA) study which he said should at least be diluted if not struck out. As part of SIA, an expert committee comprising two social scientists, civil society members and people affected by the project to be initiated on the identified land, need to be constituted to hold at least four Gram Sabhas. This, the AP government claims is a time consuming process that spans over a minimum period of three to four months.
Another part of the same clause that the revenue department is worried over is the definition of “affected family”. This, as it encompasses all those whose livelihoods have been affected, even three years prior to the acquisition, as being entitled to compensation. According to AP officials, the implementation of this clause would burn a big hole in the government’s pocket.
The second relaxation, likely to be sought, is with regard to the ‘missing’ emergency clause, which was part of the erstwhile Act of 1894. The new Act, however, gives the central government the power to immediately take back the land in case of natural calamities. “This is an infringement of sorts on the state’s autonomy,” said a revenue official.
The state government is also pressing for an amendment to the clause pertaining to ‘compensation to be paid in retrospective effect for earlier executed projects’, according to the revised Act of 2013. According to this, the acquirer will need to pay fresh compensation to parties affected by an existing project at the site, even if they have been compensated in the past, according to the old Act. “It will be a Herculean task for a cash-strapped government to pay. Thus, repealing this clause is very important,” an official rued.
“Given that the Union government is open to these amendments, we hope that the changes are made as soon as possible,” said an official who attended the national-level meeting on the Act recently. Officials maintained that all land acquisitions have been put on hold only because of this Act.
Wants Centre to either struck out or dilute the mandatory social impact assessment; says it’s time consuming
Worried over is definition of “affected family” in this clause; claims its implementation will burn a big hole in government’s pocket.
Second relaxation sought is with regard to ‘missing’ emergency clause that was part of erstwhile Act of 1894
Also pressing for amendment to clause pertaining to ‘compensation to be paid in retrospective effect for earlier executed projects’