Land acquisition in the country has been a matter of debate and concern. This is mainly due to the following reasons: Land acquisition has till now been governed under a very old law. This old law resulted in indiscriminate land acquisition by the government, poor compensation to the poor farmers, often resulted in farmers becoming landless and also to loss of their livelihood. There have also been disputes and armed struggles when land has to be acquired for development projects such as highways and factories.
The Government of India is planning to bring out a new Land Acquisition Bill. With this the Government will balance the need for development with the rights of the farmers. Under this Bill, the rights of the landowner will be protected, when the Central or the State Governments acquire land from him for various developmental projects. The important part is that the land cannot be taken away from the landowners unless 80% of them agree to this. He will be provided adequate compensation which will be much higher than the existing rates. The landowner will also be provided additional livelihood options, and provided skill enhancement and training for this. The new law protects the rights of the forest dwellers.
The law provides new land for building homes when the old land is taken away. Also money is provided for building houses, if the provided homes are not accepted. A subsistence allowance will also be paid to those whose land has been acquired.
Under the new Land Bill, impact of the project on the people living nearby, how it will affect their livelihood, will the people be displaced, how much land is actually required, etc. has to be done before land can be acquired.
It is compulsory for the Gram Sabha, Panchayat, Municipality or Municipal Corporation to not only inform the people about a new land acquisition, but also and discuss with them about the project and its benefits. Public hearing needs to be done and views of the people will be recorded.
The date and venue of the public hearing has to be publicized in advance in the local language.
It is necessary that 80% of those who are about to lose their land should agree for the project. In case of a project where private companies are involved, 70% of the affected families should agree and say ‘yes’ to the project.
This report will be seen by independent experts who will check to see that this has not been influenced. It has to be completed within 6 months.
The Land Bill will take care of the effect of the project on the environment. After all these considerations, the Government will submit its report for issue of the first notice for acquiring land.
The decision will be communicated to the Panchayat, Gram Sabha, Municipality, or Municipal Corporation in the local language so that the people know about the land acquisition.
Under the new Land Bill, the Government will provide you four times the current market value of the land when the land is taken away from you. In urban areas, you will get two times the current market value.
However, the State Government can change these rates in both cases.
All affected families will be given houses. But for this to happen, you should be staying in your home for at least three to five years before the land is acquired. Also if you do not want to accept the house offered then in that case, you will get one time financial assistance to build your house which will be Rs.1.5 lakh or more.
Every affected family even without a home but dependent on the land and staying for a period not less than 3 years on the land will get the same benefits.
All affected families will be given the choice of annuity or employment. If employment is not forthcoming each of the affected family will be entitled to a one time grant of Rs. 5 lakh. Or they can be provided with annuity payment of Rs. 2000 per month per family for 20 years. This will be adjusted for inflation.
The affected families will be given training and will be helped with developing their existing skills.
All the displaced families will get Rs.3000/- per month for a period of one year. In the case of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes displaced from scheduled area, they will get an additional amount equivalent to Rs.50,000/-. Also, each of the affected families will be given transport allowance of Rs. 50,000/- and an additional Rs. 50,000/- as resettlement allowance.
For Artisans, Small Traders Or Self Employed Persons
They will get one time financial assistance. The state government will specify this amount from time to time. In any case this amount will not be less than Rs. 25,000/-.
Family Having Cattle And Small Shops
They will also be given one time financial assistance. This will be decided by the state government, but it cannot be less than Rs. 25,000/-.
The compensation has to be paid within 3 months.
Time Frame For Resettlement And Rehabilitation
The money for the resettlement and rehabilitation have to be paid within 6 months from the date of the award. As far as allotment of land and houses and infrastructural facilities in new place of rehabilitation are concerned, they have to completed with 1.5 years of the date of land acquisition.
The District Collector of area can only take possession of the land when it is ensured that the full compensation and benefits for resettlement and rehabilitation are paid to the affected families.