Reported By: Subhro Bhatacharya
The Lok Sabha on Thursday, August,29th passed the historic The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2012. The bill which replaces the antiquated Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and among other things aim to provide a just and fair compensation to land losers along with provisions for mandatory resettlement and rehabilitation ((http://rural.nic.in/sites/downloads/general/ls%20version%20of%20larr%20%20bill.pdf)). On reading the bare provisions of the bill one finds that the bill goes a long way in correcting the historic injustices done with the land losers which has come to the forefront in recent times. The bill, which witnessed the opposition moving 165 amendments and the government 116, was passed amid unusual bi-partisan camaraderie with the leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj praising Rural Development Minister Sri Jayram Ramesh for his efforts in shaping the bill.
Among its key provisions the bill makes a Social Impact Study mandatory for all acquisition, makes 80% consent of land losers mandatory for acquisition of land by private companies and 70 % for public-private partnerships and fixes compensation of land losers at four times of the market price for rural areas and two times the market price for urban areas ((http://www.prsindia.org/billtrack/the-land-acquisition-rehabilitation-and-resettlement-bill-2011-1978/)). Coming to the contentious issue of rehabilitation and resettlement the bill can be said to be a step in a right direction with its comprehensive provisions for resettlement and rehabilitation. The bill cites that a mandatory Resettlement and Rehabilitation committee shall be established for every acquisition above 100 acres to monitor the Resettlement and Rehabilitation scheme along with the establishment of a National Monitoring Committee at the Central level.
The Resettlement and Rehabilitation provisions shall also apply in cases of private acquisition above 100 acres in rural areas and 50 acres in urban areas or in cases where the government makes partial acquisition for private players. Along with the compensatory amount the bill additionally promises displaced families houses as per Indira Awas Yojna, a onetime transportation charge of Rs.50,000 and the option of choosing either mandatory employment of one person per family in the upcoming project, or a onetime payment of Rs.5 lakhs or an annuity of Rs.2,000 for 20 years ((http://www.prsindia.org/uploads/media/Land%20and%20R%20and%20R/LARR%20-%20Final%20Brief.pdf)).
The bill also seeks to establish a Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority for settling any disputes regarding land acquisition. While some critiques from industry has went on to say that the bill will hurt industry by pushing up the cost of acquiring land there can be no doubt about the fact that a just Land Acquisition Law will complement industry by preventing incidents like Nandigram and Singur and will ensure a more inclusive growth for India’s one billion plus population.