Wednesday, February 25, 2015

कुछ तो लोग कहेंगे, लोगोंका काम है कहना।


1.         It is draconian, it is more sinister than British Raj, it is a land grab, government is against farmers, modi is property dealer, farmers are being bulldozed – all opposition parties are crying hoarse on the land acquisition bill. What are the contentious issues, what are the differences from the UPA bill and why the opposition is opposing. Let us see one by one.

2.         Original Land Acquistion Act. “The land acquisition act of 1894 was created with the purpose of facilitating acquisition by the government of privately held land for public purposes. The word "public purpose", as defined in the act, refers to the acquisition of land for constructing educational institutions or schemes such as housing, health or slum clearance, as well as for projects concerned with rural planning or formation of sites. The word "government" refers to the central government if the purpose for acquisition is for the union and for all other purposes it refers to the state government. It is not necessary that all the acquisition has to be initiated by the government alone. Local authorities, societies registered under the societies registration act, 1860 and co-operative societies established under the co-operative societies act can also acquire the land for developmental activities through the government.” - Sourse Wikipedia. The most relevant issue as far as the land owner is concerned is compensation. On compensation this law further states that – “Provision for settlement of dispute pertaining to apportionment of the compensation amount is available under section 30 of the Act. In such a situation, the Deputy Commissioner should refer the matter to the court. The claimant will be entitled to the compensation which is determined on the basis of the market value of the land determined as on the date of preliminary notification. According to section 34, if there is delay in payment of compensation beyond one year from the date on which possession is taken, interest at the rate of 15 per cent per annum shall be payable from the date of expiry of the said period of one year on the outstanding amount of compensation until the date of payment.”   - Source Wiki.

3.         Contentious Issue of Compensation.

Over the years it was considered that the compensation is not enough considering it is not only the land but the livelihood of many. Land was seen as a source of regular income, a capital especially for farmers. Therefore there was urgent requirement of amending this law as per the changed social situations and aspirations of the land owners. In 2013 UPA came out with draft amended land acquisition bill which did not see the light of the day. The bill came up after a prolonged consultative period with all stake holders. BJP introduced a refined and improved version of the bill plugging impractical corners of the bill. Let us see the main difference between the three bills at a glance in the table given below.

4.         Differences in the Land Acquisition Bill.

Table : Major Differences in the Land Acquisition Bill

Land Acq Bill (LAB) 1894
Market rate only.
For a typical rural household that owns the average of 3 acres of land, the Act will replace the loss of annual average per capita income of Rs.11,136 for the rural household, with:
  • four times the market value of the land, and
  • an upfront payment of Rs.1,36,000 (US$ 3,000) for subsistence, transportation and resettlement allowances, and
  • an additional entitlement of a job to the family member, or a payment of Rs.5,00,000 (US$ 11,000) up front, or a monthly annuity totaling Rs.24,000 (US$ 550) per year for 20 years with adjustment for inflation – the option from these three choices shall be the legal right of the affected land owner family, not the land acquirer, and
  • a house with no less than 50 square meters in plinth area, and
  • additional benefits may apply if the land is resold without development, used for urbanization, or if the land owner belongs to SC/ST or other protected groups per rules of the Government of India
If the affected families on the above rural land demand 100% upfront compensation from the land acquirer, and the market value of land is Rs.1,00,000 per acre, the Act mandates the land acquirer to offset the loss of an average per capita 2010 income of Rs.11,136 per year created by this 3 acre of rural land, with the following:
  • Rs.18,36,000 (US$ 41,727) to the rural land owner; which is the total of R&R allowances of Rs.6,36,000 plus Rs.12,00,000 – which is four times the market value of the land, plus
  • a house with no less than 50 square metres in plinth area and benefits from Schedule III-VI as applicable to the rural land owner, plus
  • additional payments of Rs.6,36,000 each to any additional families claiming to have lost its livelihood because of the acquisition, even if they do not own the land
(Source Wikipedia and PDF document)
Same in addition, the ordinance has brought 13 land acquisitioning acts left in LARR 2013 bill under its ambit, thereby increasing the number of beneficiaries.
The LARR Act 2013 exempted 13 laws (such as the National Highways Act, 1956 and the Railways Act, 1989) from its purview. However, the LARR Act 2013 required that the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws be brought in consonance with the LARR Act 2013, within a year of its enactment, through a notification. The Ordinance brings the compensation, rehabilitation, and resettlement provisions of these 13 laws in consonance with the LARR Act 2013.
(Source  - PRS legislative research)
Expanding the Categories
The LARR Act 2013 requires that the consent of 80% of land owners is obtained for private projects and that the consent of 70% of land owners be obtained for PPP projects.
The Ordinance exempts five categories from this provision of the Act. The five categories are defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land.
Social Impact Study and acquisition of multicropped land and irrigated land beyond certain limits
LARR 2013  - these are applicable to all types of acquisition.
Applicable to all types except - The five categories  -  defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land.
Return of unutilized land.
The LARR Act 2013 required that if land acquired under it remained unutilised for five years, it was returned to the original owners or the land bank.
Ordinance states that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be five years, or any period specified at the time of setting up the project, whichever is later.
Period of retrospective application
The LARR Act 2013 states that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 will continue to apply in certain cases, where an award has been made under the 1894 Act. However, if such as award was made five year or more before the enactment of the LARR Act 2013, and the physical possession of land has not been taken or compensation has not been paid, the LARR Act 2013 will apply.
Ordinance states that in calculating this time period, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up: (i) due to a stay order of a court, or (ii) a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or (iii) any period where possession has been taken but the compensation is lying deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted.


5.         Aim of Amending the LARR 2013 Act.  The social impact study include public hearings and expert committee report and action renders the acquisition process extremely time consuming and impractical. Land acquisition social impact study may not see the light of the day. The clause of return of unutilized (for 5 years) land is highly impractical as the all the big projects have a gestation period running into years which easily surpass 5 year period. No project would then see the light of the day. In effect the LARR 2013 was such a piece of legislation arrived by true democratic spirit of taking into account all the suggestions of all the stake holders without going into its merits and practicality that the legislation would sure prove to be anti-acquisition and anti-growth. It is an excellent example of how a thing cannot be get done as a result of impractical legislation.  

6.         Why Opposition.     It is very easy to paint the party in governance as anti-people / anti-farmers. The opposition does not have anything else to sensationalise and to attract the masses at present. Kejriwal finds it very easy to oppose everthing as his is a fledgling party. So he calls Modi property dealer. As it is people have seen how many times kejriwal has misled the people for votes. He believes in freebies rather than wealth creation. BSP, JD (U), SP knows that elections are due in UP and Bihar and if they can paint BJP as anti-farmers they could gain votes.  Leftist have found that if they oppose they can still remain relevant for some more years in India. Congress wants to remain a player in politics and this is one issue which can touch emotions of farmers. Their seriousness though could be understood by absence of Rahul Gandhi in budget session. They know farmers are not going to read the fine print and so are trying out at chicanery to change the perception of BJP from a performing government to an anti-farmer party. TMC knows that they are on slippery ground on Sharada Chit Fund scam and any attention deflecting subject is welcome. Akali Dal is opposing as elections are round the corner in Punjab and they are on slippery ground. I really have a doubt whether Shri Anna Hazare has really read the fine print of Ordinance.

7.         Tailpiece.      Key infrastructure projects worth lakhs of crores have been stalled because of impractical land acquisition legislation. If it is not done, projects won’t get completed.  The costs would keep getting escalated and the benefits of completed projects would not get accrued. It would be a waste of national wealth. BJP should go on regardless. Otherwise it will fritter the mandate. Opposition would mount another attack on the ground of non performance of the government, which is bound to get manifested with this flawed LARR 2013 legislation.

कुछ तो लोग कहेंगे, लोगोंका काम है कहना।

छोडो, बेकारकी बातोंमे, कही बीत ना जाए रैना।।