The Economic Times, 23 March 2015, New Delhi: With the opposition taking to the roads to oppose the amendments in the land bill, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government has decided that it will also reach out to the farmers to counter the charge that it does not have their best interests at heart.
A high-level national monitoring committee will review and monitor the implementation of the resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) related to land acquisition under the law enacted by the previous UPA government, officials said. The development comes after widespread protests over the government’s move to issue an ordinance that dropped the mandatory social impact assessment and the consent clause for five sectors in a bid to spur infrastructure development and industrialisation.
The government has, however, retained the high compensation and the R&R provisions of the Act of 2013 and the secretary-level committee will ensure that all the provisions of R&R as prescribed in the Act are implemented even before the land is acquired, a senior government official told ET. The government hopes this approach will help establish its good intentions.
“The 25-member committee will be chaired by the secretary of department of land resources and comprise 17 other secretaries of various central ministries, revenue secretaries of Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “It will review and monitor the implementation of R&R schemes or plans related to land acquisition under this Act.”
The R&R provisions of the 2013 Act include rehabilitation and resettlement amount payable to the family, a house to be allotted in case of displaced families, onetime subsistence allowance and transportation allowance, payment for cattle shed and shops, one-time payment to artisans and small traders as well as a provision for mandatory employment to be provided to the members of the affected families. The right to fair compensation and transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 203, which came into force on January 1, 2014, is said to have stalled hundreds of projects worth lakhs of crores of rupees.
It had been introduced to amend legislation dating back to 1894 after violent protests broke out over land being taken away from farmers. Many states have also complained that the law has made land acquisition almost impossible. The government brought about changes in the original law through an ordinance on December 29, 2014, which was later laid in Parliament duriing the budget session and got cleared in the Lok Sabha after government made nine fresh changes to the Act to accommodate some of the demands of its own allies as well as the opposition, the most important being insertion of the compulsory employment clause under the Act.
The government has exempted projects related to affordable housing, defence and defence manufacturing, public-private partnership projects, industrial corridors and rural infrastructure from the mandatory consent of landowners and their social impact assessment. Under the original law, acquirers would have required the consent of 70 per cent of landholders in case of public and PPP projects and 80 per cent in the case of private ones while the maximum time allotted for social impact assessment was six months.