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Land Acquisition Bill: Discuss the Pros and Cons.

Land acquisition is the process of obtaining land from the people, by the government for certain developmental purposes that advantages the majority. Land acquisition in India was practised based on the Land acquisition act of 1894 until 2013. As a result of the huge turmoil that the 120 years old law created among the displaced, it was substituted by the land acquisition and rehabilitation act 2013 by the then ruling UPA government. Albeit the law gained consensus among the majority, the reign of NDA government was set forth by the introduction of new amending ordinance in the law. The new changes gained mixed reaction from the people and the opposition parties. The government is heading to pass the amended bill in Rajyasabha after conquering the house of people though the opposition parties strongly oppose this 'anti-farmer bill'.

'The Land acquisition rehabilitation and resettlement act 2013' came into existence at the New Year's glory, 1st January 2014. Soon gaining popular accolade it seemed altogether at the favour of the laymen. 1894 Land acquisition act was vicious due to its dictatorship tone. Land encroached for public purposes always displaced mainly farmers and tribal from their homeland thus dismantling their fundamental rights. There was no custom of enquiry by the government on whether the encroached land was used or not. 55% of the total tribal population was displaced by the 1894 act. But they were marginalised as 'local queries'. But the colossal water project 'Sardar Sarovar Dam' in river Narmada, was a wake in this oppression were the autocracy of the government was subjugated by the public struggle- Narmada Bachao Aandolan. The Singoor-Nandigram land encroachment had a similar fate and the protest against the acquisition of 997 acres of land by Tata motors was culminated with the fall of communist party led government in West Bengal.

Thus a golden ray to lighten up this murkier environment by the rural development minister Jayaram Ramesh was welcomed with applause. Within the completion of 1 year of 'Right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition rehabilitation and resettlement act 2013' the amending ordinances by the successors hence will make the people dubious.

According to the 2013 act the consensus of 70% and 80% of the land owners is mandatory for acquiring land for private companies and public private partnership respectively. Also within 6 months of the land acquisition a social impact assessment through public hearing and diagnosis by an expert panel is suggested. By including the members of local self government in the panel, public emotion is sensed. If the acquired land is a multi-crop cultivation land equal amount of farmland has to be recreated according to the 2013 law. These criteria made the public ardent about the law that projects the twin objectives of farmer's welfare along with expeditiously meeting the strategic and developmental needs of the country. But the amendments created by the NDA Government took away the concerns regarding the multi-crop farmland and time limitation of 5 years to complete the project. Land acquisition for private hospitals and schools was not endorsed in 2013 act while the ordinance does.

The amendment to section 10(A) that exempted land acquisition for sectors such as defence , infra structure , public private partnership projects etc. from the requirement of public hearing ,social impact assessment and consensus of the citizen is possessing an altogether risk though the government substantiate these innovations as the response to the ambiguous state governments upon halted development. To illustrate, a real estate project can be feigned as a governmental project. Anyhow land acquisitions of the past that lead to development induced displacement had numerous ill-effects upon people as stated by Michael Cernea's impoverishment risk model, like landlessness, joblessness, marginalisation, no access to common properties and resources, increased morbidity and mortality, food insecurity, homelessness, social dis articulation and the recently added- loss of education by L K Mahapatra. As the 75% of the displaced are still in need of getting solution to these, the 'pro-corporate amendments' as the opposition argue may put the mob in dilemma.

On the contrary, hard-liners argue that the ordinances created will spur the economy by creating millions of jobs, meet the aspirations of farmers and galore of business opportunity. The 2013 act had created so many onerous clauses that acquisition and related projects came into a virtual halt across India. This made job creations crashed ultimately leading the voters to turn against the UPA government with vengeance. It can be said that the 'pro-farmer effect' boomeranged. The pretension that fast economic growth benefits only a few industrialists can be proved wrong by viewing the reduced poverty level ,thuggery, corruption and leakages across India from 2004-5to 2011-12. It is visible that the Modi government has innovated the 2013 law so as to ensure smooth, speedy acquisition for government infrastructure and industrial corridors. The analogy with Singoor -Nandigram issue also seems to be false as the Government's move to maintain the compensation package at 4 times the market value in rural areas and 2 times in urban areas will go a long way in ensuring that the land owners and farmers are adequately compensated.

Politically, the situation is apt for the opposition to take advantage of the ruling party, reflecting at the March 17th united march of the 14 opposition parties. farmers and tribal organisation will be against the bill thus gaining amity with the opposition, causing menace to the ruling party. But, with proper communication these projects can ensure success of the ruling party. However 90% of the rural Indians have never met a central government official but has acquainted with state government officials. Thus farmers whose land is acquire will be happy or angry depending on the state government's honesty. Responsibility lies upon chief ministers not prime minister. Every government stand for the people, thus being optimistic.


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