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Land Acquisition Bill: Discuss the Pros and Cons.

Land which is the most prized possession of a poor farmer in India , it is this land which gives him a sense of security that he still has some silver linings to look at even if he is caught and stuck in the most gravest of debt traps. This land whether arable or non arable is always a poor man's hope but if this land is snatched away from him without giving him anything in return then the fate of the whole nation would be in jeopardy, because India is a land of farmers .

The old archaic law of Land acquisition of 1894 was done away with the replacement of 'Right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition rehabilitation and resettlement act of 2013 (LARR Act) passed by the then UPA-2 government. Under the old law there was large scale exploitation as there was no proper focus upon resettlement and rehabilitation of the land losers, also the land was taken away at throw away prices from the owners.

The LARR act was seen as a hope for the suffering farmers since it laid much stress upon the rehabilitation and resettlement of the land losers, it provided for a consent clause in which 70% of consent of the farmers was required for acquisitions for PPP projects and 80% consent was required for the private party project, there was a social impact assessment clause which was to be done by a group of experts to examine the impact of the project within 6 months time period , there was a hike in the compensation provided to the land losers and the calculation of compensation was also to be based on the market value of the land acquired , which was 4 times the market value in rural areas and 2 times in urban areas .

There was some drawbacks in the LARR act , the consent clause which contained 70% consent for the PPP project saw acquiring land a tedious process which could discourage investment atmosphere in the country leading to slowing the pace of growth, the clause of non- acquisition of multi cropped land was also criticized since it discouraged urbanization growth, as at present there are one third of the total farmers in India who want to quit farming and switch over to some other economic opportunities in their nearby areas , moreover the social impact assessment clause which appeared noble on paper was quite cumbersome and time taking to implement .

The new government which came to power in 2014 promulgated an ordinance amending the LARR act by removing the two clauses , one , the social impact assessment and the other one the consent clause( 70% for PPP project and 80% for private project) . This move of the government has made it appear as pro- corporate in ideology and anti-farmer by the opposition parties who are not willing to amend the LARR act passed earlier, there is wide scale criticism in the country not only by the opposition and other regional parties but also from the pressure groups and the farmers.

It is yet to be seen whether the new government would continue with the ordinance by re promulgating it again and again or it would bend under the pressure and re-include the deleted clauses. The fate of the poor farmers would remain unaffected if the laws whether amended or not amended remain a law only on paper and there is hardly any implementation on ground!

Ruha Latif Ruha

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