What the amendments mean, why they were needed right now
GN Bureau | December 30, 2014
An ordinance to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, popularly known as the land acquisition bill, was cleared by the Union cabinet on Monday night.
The original Act that came into effect from January 2014 and states were facing difficulties in its implementation. The amendments will protect the interests of the affected people and also ease procedural difficulties in the acquisition of lands required for important national projects.
Project-affected people compensation element:
The existing Act’s Section 105 keeps 13 most frequently used Acts for land acquisition for the Central Government Projects out of the purview. These are national highways, metro rail, atomic energy, electricity related projects and etc. Due to this exception a large number of project-affected people were being denied the compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) measures prescribed under the Act.
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The amendments bring all those exempted 13 Acts under the purview of this land Act for the purpose of compensation as well as R&R and thus benefiting the affected families.
Faster processing without affecting compensation or R&R is another important change in the amendments cleared by the cabinet:
The amendments facilitate a fast track process for land acquisition for categories. For this the government seeks to amend Section 10(A) of the Act to expand the list of projects that would not require Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and prior consent of affected families. These include projects for defence and defence production, rural infrastructure including rural electrification, affordable housing and housing for the poor, industrial corridors as well as infrastructure and social infrastructure projects including public private partnership projects wherein the ownership continues to vest with the government.
Why the urgency of ordinance
The government had to amend the Act before the end of the year since Section 105 of the Act, which provides for excluding 13 central legislations, would otherwise have to be notified by December 31. The 13 legislation included Land Acquisition (Mines) Act 1885, Atomic Energy Act, 1962, Railway Act 1989, National Highways Act 1956 and Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, 1978.