Friday, January 9, 2015


 How is the new ordinance on land acquisition legislation – the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR) is different from its earlier version? Critically examine. 

Land is a finite resource and first thing for starting any project. Complication in acquiring land caused enormous delays hence Govt came up with renewed bill LARR 2013 which was introduced last year as it’s earlier version has failed to achieve any concrete success because of:
1. Longer delay in acquisitions because of Social Assessment Committee formalities.
2. As per the CII, because of the news of doubling and quadrupling of price in urban and rural areas respectively. Already the price has gone up for land. Hence in future, any land acquisition will become unviable for public project and uncompetitive for private projects.
3. The clause of obtaining consent of 80 percent of affected families for private sector and 70 percent of affected families for Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects would make the process of obtaining consent a very long drawn out process.
4. The Bill talks of an urgency clause which means that government can acquire a land it wants by ignoring all the pre-set conditions.
5. The Resettlement & Rehabilitation clause gives no guarantee to jobs.
6. The Bill compensates different categories of affected families at par, not aligned to their losses. So there could be cases where compensation calculated is lower than the market rate.
7. State is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to acquiring farm land.
8. The Bill does not guarantee return of unused land if land owner repays compensation to the state. It only suggests that it should be returned which creates confusion.
But the newer bill which comes with Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency clause has following
1. Removal of Social Impact Assessment from the LARR under certain special condition
2. Enlarged the scope of cases when central govt can take land without 80% consent clause as compared to LARR by including 13 more categories like Metro project, Railway, Energy, National Highway etc.
3. New Ordinance is pro-Land-Acquirer, by reducing the time for acquisition by several years, and thereby reducing the opportunity cost, is a huge benefit. When this is topped up with the reduction or removal of the cash cost of social impact assessments and referenda, it becomes a windfall for the acquirers too.
Newer Ordinance is in the right spirit toward faster land acquisitions but fails to address the problem of fast rising land prices. Soon we will hit the saturation price which will make acquisition near impossible.

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