Planners, activists seek focus on urban land acquisition.
PUNE: Activists and urban planners have demanded that the central government should amend proposed land acquisition Bill to incorporate provisions focusing on urban areas or else introduce separate Bill for urban vicinities.
Right to Fair Compensation, Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Bill, 2012 proposed by the government starts with the introduction, “Infrastructure across the country must expand rapidly. Industrialization, especially based on manufacturing has also to accelerate. Urbanisation is inevitable”. However activists and urban planners observe that the Bill focuses only on the rural land acquisition and rehabilitation and excludes urban area.
“Apart from the proposed Bill, there should be separate Bill for urban areas which will consider the vital fact of increasing land value in urban areas. The government norms and rules for land acquisition should move with time. Jairam Ramesh, minister for rural development has shown concern for rural areas, but the urban scenario remains neglected in the proposed Bill” said urban planner Anita Benninger – Gokhale speaking to TOI. She added that the issue if Bio Diversity Park (BDP) in Pune city is pending for years as the issue of compensation has become bone of contention.
“Once you have laws giving confidence to land owners that they will get 100 per cent or maximum compensation, there will be no opposition to land acquisition” she added.
Urban planner Ramchandra Gohad said, “Land acquisition in urban areas has become major issue. If the central government is not willing to bring new Bill, the proposed Bill should be amended and more provisions for urban areas should be incorporated. The central government should encourage Town Planning (TP) schemes in urban areas, which will facilitate urbanization”.
The McKinsey Global Institute report that states that the urban population of India would rocket to 590 million by year 2030 from 340 million in year 2008, and form about 40 per cent of the total population. Activists question the Bill for “neglecting” the issues emanating in the urban areas when it comes to land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation.
Various organizations under umbrella of National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) led by Medha Patkar have decided to raise voice against the ” negligence” towards urban issues in the proposed Bill.
” The Bill and the comments by both, standing committee as well as ministry of rural development almost totally excludes and have unaddressed the situation in the urban areas, where there is no land acquisition, but eviction, brutal and unjust, for any and every elitist real estate development to infrastructure without guaranteeing right to shelter, right to life and livelihood” the NAPM stated in a press statement.
The draft Bill states, ” Where land is acquired for urbanization, 20% of the developed land will be reserved and offered to land owning project affected families, in proportion to their land acquired and at a price equal to cost of acquisition and the cost of development. In case the project affected family wishes to avail of this offer, an equivalent amount will be deducted from the land acquisition compensation package payable to it”.
However NAPM objects the provision. ” The only provision is to compensate with 20% of developed land for land owning families in urbanisation projects, which is not with regard to the cases where land belongs to the government or private entities but people are evicted. We demand a separate section or a separate act for the millions of the urban persons and urban land from getting misappropriated. The Bill with the presently proposed content need to be called only Rural Bill” states the NAPM statement.
NAPM members alleged that “rapacious” use of Land Acquisition Act 1894 by the government to secure land for “development” projects has caused over 100 million people to be displaced from their land, livelihoods and shelters. ” The country is dotted with communities resisting State sponsored land grab which resonate the demand for a just law to ensure that there is no forced acquisition of land and resources, including minerals and ground water” said NAPM members.
Activists said that if the UPA government is serious about addressing the conflicts over the land and other natural resources then it must listen to the voices of those struggling or else it will only aggravate these conflicts all across the country. ” The need of growth, infrastructure and urbanisation can’t be fulfilled on the graveyard of millions. A pro-people Development Planning Bill with complete participation of the Gram Sabha will go a long way in stopping the massive corporate corruption and lead to decentralization of power having an overall impact on the politics of the country” said activists.Pune’s land acquisition moves at slow pace
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has failed to execute the 1987 Development Plan (DP) in the past 25 years. Out of the 609 reservations earmarked for various civic amenities, the PMC has developed only 134. The civic administration blames the land acquisition process for the failure to implement the DP.
Now the PMC has prepared a DP for old city. The DP is applicable to the old city comprising 17 peths and its surrounding areas extending to over 147.85 sq km. The DP proposes 921 reservations covering 1,080.79 hectare area for amenities like health, education, recreation, etc. The 1987 DP had 587 reservations for amenities.
In the development plan, the administration earmarks available land in the city for public amenities like gardens, hospitals, schools, roads and footpaths based on the population of an area. The DP lays out policies and proposals for development and use of land. It is meant to guide decisions such as whether permission to develop should be granted under the development control rules. The decisions must be consistent and match the DP adopted by the authority after public consultation.
“Despite all efforts to acquire land, the administration has failed to convince owners. A majority of the land acquisition cases are pending in court. People have no faith in the compensation process. It is a fact that urban land acquisition is entirely different from the rural scenario,” said one of the civic officials.
According to the civic administration one of the reasons for the failure of the Swargate – Katraj – Hadapsar pilot BRTS project was problems in acquiring land. The pilot route was developed in stretched as many land owners whose land was to be acquired for the project approached court.
The DP for 1987 had earmarked two internal ring roads, one passing through peth areas and the second, a High Capacity Mass Transit Route (HCMTR) route connecting areas between Bopodi and Hadapsar. The objective was to reduce traffic congestion.
However, these roads may never become a reality as land acquisition is impossible with large-scale development in the city.
Owing to opposition to land acquisition the PMC failed to acquire land for roads in the congested areas. All commercial activities of the city are concentrated in Budhwar Peth, Shukrawar Peth, Shaniwar Peth, Narayan Peth and Sadashiv Peth. Roads, lanes, and bylanes in these areas were planned more than 300 years ago. Same roads being used by the city which now has a population of 32 lakh. Over 5,000 four-wheelers and 35,000 two-wheelers pass through the Peth areas every day and more than half of the vehicles than 50% vehicles are parked for extended hours.
City engineer Prashant Waghmare said that the PMC was putting efforts to accelerate land acquisition process and taking land owners into confidence.
Definition of Land
“Land includes benefits to arise out of land, and things attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything attached to the earth.”
Time Line Set in Draft Bill
Compensation will be given within a period of three months from the date of the award;
Monetary relief and rehabilitation entitlements will be provided within a period of six months from the date of the award;
Infrastructure relief and rehabilitation entitlements will be provided within a period of eighteen months from the date of the award;
o involuntary displacement will take place without completion of relief and rehabilitation;
In irrigation or hydel projects, relief and rehabilitation shall be completed six months prior to submergence.