Speech of Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister, Tripura
on the Amendments proposed in Second Ordinance, 2015 to
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land
Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Second Meeting of the
Governing Council of NITI Aayog
Chaired by Hon'ble Prime Minister of India
July 15, 2015
Panchavati, Race Course Road
Comments of the State Government of Tripura
Amendments proposed in Second Ordinance, 2015 to
the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land
Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement
The Land Acquisition Act of L894 was repealed and The Right To Fair Compensation And Transparency In Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR 2013) was passed in its place. This Act had emerged through long deliberations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee and a consultative process involving different political parties, organisations of the peasantry, rural poor and concerned individuals to try and achieve a consensus. Despite some limitations, the LARR 2013 had
certain principles enshrined in it to ensure some protection for the farmers and dependents on land and safeguard the food security concerns of the country.
The Amendments proposed weakens each one of these minimal safeguards. They are a step backwards towards the framework of the Land Acquisition Act of L894. On behalf of the Government of Tripura, place before the hon'ble Prime Minister through the Governing Council of Niti Aayog our views on The
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement [Second Amendment Bill, 2015) for your consideration:
L. Exemption of 5 Categories of Land Use From Prior-Informed Consent The Amendments created 5 'Special' Categories of Land Use namely: (i) defence, [ii) rural infrastructure, fiiiJ affordable housing, (iv) industrial corridors, and (v) infrastructure projects including PPP projects where the Central Government owns the land. These were exempted from the requirement of consent of B0 percent of the affected in case of Private Projects and consent of 70 percent of affected people in case of Public Private Partnership (PPP) Projects.
This reinstates the Eminent Domain or the power of the State to forcibly acquire Land without the owner's consent. This in effect brings back the draconian provision in the Colonial Land Acquisition Act of 1,894 and also removes even the minimal guarantees provided by the Land Acquisition Act of 20L3. The Amendments will remove distinction between acquisition for the State and for Private companies. It will bring private companies and their activities of unbridled profiteering into public purpose. Even though the 1894 Act allowed the use of the State's Eminent Domain to forcibly acquire land for public purpose, acquisition could not be done for "private purposes" of a company, and had to be made in the "larger public interest”
Further, acquisition for companies was not to be donl without due consideration, simply on demand.
This Amendment broadens the scope of acquisition and exempts all the Projects involving larger take-over of land from seeking consent of the affected people. We are of the view that Land Acquisition should be based on prior informed consent of affected persons with the least displacement and for a democratically established public purpose. Consultation andapproval from Panchayats and Gram sabhas for public purpose, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Social Impact Assessment, etc must also be ensured. There be no exemption from seeking prior-informed consent of the affected people as prescribed in the principal Act.
2. Exemption From Social Impact Assessment The Amendments have exempted the above-mentioned 5 categories of Land Use from the mandatory need for Social Impact Assessment to be conducted to identi$r affected families and analyse the social impact when land is acquired. Land acquisition for PSUs and the Government will no longer be on a different footing from land acquisition for private companies or PPP Projects. The few safeguards against indiscriminate land acquisition, land use change and wanton displacement have been dropped. An impartial assessment as to how many families will be affected, is the land being acquired the bare minimal, whether alternative sites are available, whether a Project is in the largest interest of the people must be carried out. Such Social Impact Assessment must be mandatory and binding having no scope for being over-ruled.
3. Exemption From provisions safeguarding Food security The Amendments have exempted the above-mentioned 5 categories of Land Use from the special provision to safeguard food security through protection to multi-crop irrigated land. Multi-cropped, irrigated land also can now be acquired without any restrictions. Food security will be seriously compromised as it will now be possible to easily acquire multi-cropped fertile land as well as productive rain-fed and semi-aiid land for industrial corridors, infrastructure projects including the ppp projects. Along with multi-cropped, irrigated lands protection for rain-fed, dry-land, semi-arid land as well as paddy lands, common property resources are indispensable to ensure food and livelihood security. Such lands need to be protected and no acquisition of such land should be allowed.
4. Expansion of Definition of public purpose Public purpose must be defined as activities which are of direct benefit to and welfare of the largest number of people, in the general interest of the community and does not include the furtherance of private speculation and profit. Public Purpose should be based on sound democratic principles and procedures, tightly defined, objectively established and democratically approved. It should also be in a manner consistent with the Constitutional Values enshrined in the Fundamental Rights and Directive principles. Public purpose shall be established through an objective, democratic and decentralized process of Social Impact Assessment studies and endorsed by the affected persons and independent experts. The Principal Act itself had a highly inclusive definition of Public Purpose allowing almost everything under its purview. The exemptions given by the Amendments further expand the scope of acquisition of land for various activities which are now placed within the ambit of public purpose.
5. Expansion of Industrial Corridors
The Amendments provide for the expansion of Industrial Corridors to include land up to 1 km on either side of the designated road or railway line for such Industrial Corridor. We are of the opinion that this will open up vast tracts of agricultural land for potential acquisition. This is only aimed to help the land mafia and real estate speculators. It will displace millions of people and deny them their main source of livelihood-. It will also adversely affect the food security of the nation. The land acquired for Industrial Corridors should be based on the principle of quod est necessarium est licitum implying only that much which is actually necessary is deemed legal.
6. Return of Unutilized Land
The Amendments allow for acquired land to be kept unutilized for long period by increasing the duration to "a period specified for setting up any Project or five years, whichever is later". This Amendment will ensure holding of land for a prolonged period even if unutilized and encourage speculative activity. Already, the cac Reports have brought out as to how such land is used to mortgage and raise the huge sums of money. Land should be reverted to the original owners if it is not used for the purpose acquired within a period of 3 years from the date of acquisition oi u. used for redistribution to the landless families with the defaulting companies having to bear the expense for making land fit for cultivation. A special punitive cess may be levied on the defaulting companies for amelioration and replenishment of the land.
7. Retrospective Application of the Act
The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 states that the Land Acquisition Act, l1g4will continue to apply in certain cases, where an award has been made under the L894 Act. However, if such an award was made five years or more before the enactment of the 2073 Act, and the physical possession of land has not been taken or compensation has not been paid, the 2013 Act will apply' The Amendments in 2075 states that in circulating this time period, any period during which the proceedings of acquisition were held up: [i) due to a stay order of a court, or (ii) a period specified in the award of a Tribunal for taking possession, or (iiil any period where possession has been taken but the compensation is-lying" deposited in a court or any account, will not be counted. This will imply that many of the ongoing acquisitions will be governed by the colonial act even though procedures are in the preliminary stage. We are of the opinion that the Act must have retrospective effect and in all cases where possession of land has not been taken even though land acquisition process has been initiated under the 1-894 Act, the process of acquisition shall start afresh in accordance with the new Act. In the Retrospective clause, the amendment says that compensation will be deemed to have been paid if it is deposited in any "designated account maintained for this purpose". The supreme court defined”, compensation paid' to mean compensation deposited in court or in the beneficiary’s account. This Amendment undermines the Supreme Court definition.
8. Mandatory Employment For Farm Labour The Government Amendments claim that it would ensure Mandatory Employment for Farm Labour. However, this actually dilutes the provisions of the Principal Act where there was the possibility of employment for the dependents on land including agricultural workers, share-croppers, landless, artisans and other rural workers. The provisions of the Principal Act regarding the affected families should remain. The option of land for land should be explored in addition to such employment and all social security benefits must accrue to the affected. The option of a one-time payment of a lump-sum to the affected family or an annuity must also be provided
g. New Addition of Private Entity
The Amendments have substituted the words 'Private Company' with ‘Private Entity'. A private entity is an entity other than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, nonprofit organization, or other entity under any other law. This Amendment widens the scope of those who can grab land and will allow the Government to acquire land for all private entities. Therefore, this proposed amendment cannot be accepted and agreed to.
10. The Implementation of Relief and Rehabilitation Provisions. The Amendments proposed to the Section 113 of the Principal Act increases the time limit for implementing various provisions like compensation, relief and rehabilitation and related activity to 5 years from 2 years. ln the name of removing difficulties the Central Government has given itself up to 20LB to issue orders amending any Part of the Act. We are of the opinion that this is unwarranted and all such entitlements must accrue to the affected persons before the start of the Project.
Since the state has got very limited land available for cultivation, we do not have the luxury to convert any more agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes and all-out efforts have been initiated mainly to make the state self-reliant with limited resources. This is all the more necessary in consideration of geographic remoteness and long circuitous connectivity of So, this state cannot afford to support the attempt of the union Government to "t ld the Right to Fair compensation and transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 on most of the issues at this moment.
Speech of Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister, Tripura on the Amendments proposed in Second Ordinance, 2015 to The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
Speech of Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister, Tripura