Going through a synopsis of the new land acquisition bill, below are the changes as compared to the older one.
1. 80% consent clause will be scrapped off for five sectors – national security, defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and housing for the poor.
2. Social impact assessment is not applicable for the above sectors. Social impact assessment talks about the number of persons impacted if the land is acquired – they can be labourers, tenants farming the land etc. This means only the land owner gets the money.
3. These five sectors don’t care about the soil quality
As a balance, it extended benifits to 13 laws including rehabilitation, resettlement and compensation.
Looking from the high level, while government overrides the rights of land owners and doesn’t recognize the rights of dependant families and will not care about the soil quality, which can destroy very fertile farmlands. But, to balance it, the government extended the compensation provisions in 13 different acts –
Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act 1957
National Highways Act 1956
Land Acquisition (Mines) Act 1885
Atomic Energy Act 1962
Indian Tramways Act 1886
Railways Act 1989
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958
Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act 1962
Damodar Valley Corporation Act 1948
Electricity Act 2003
Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act 1952
Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act 1948
Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act 1978
Clearly, the bill aims at fast paced development but though it aims at helping the displaced, things would have been better. Instead of opposing a bill, which the country needs desperately, a few changes should have been demanded as against this like –
1. The consent clause can be scrapped off for all sectors except industrial corridors. For industrial corridors, consent clause should still be there, but it should be made 51% as against 80%.
2. Definition of compensation. The compensation should not be based on an arbitrary number calculated, which is usually very less. Rather, it should consider facts like most recent land registration, inflation, increase in per capita and population growth rates etc.
3. Social impact clause should be applicable, but not completely. But, for dependents, no monetary compensation need not be given, but if he stays for more than, say, 3 years, he will be eligible for relocation and one job for the family.
4. Quality of farmlands should be considered, but based on percentage of land. It doesn’t make any sense to destroy 100 hectares of rice fields when there is land somewhere else. Rather, if it is 40 hectares out of 100, it can be considered.
5. Relocation and Compensation should not include 4 times compensation, but 2 times compensation plus a job plus an equal amount of farmland of comparable quality elsewhere along with cost of relocation.