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Rajiv kumar & chetan bijesure: land bill needs a new 'publicpurpose' (7) - LED Cabinet Light Fixtur by grass lawn

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Rajiv kumar & chetan bijesure: land bill needs a new 'publicpurpose' (7) - LED Cabinet Light Fixtur by
Article Posted: 10/08/2013
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Rajiv kumar & chetan bijesure: land bill needs a new 'publicpurpose' (7) - LED Cabinet Light Fixtur

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We welcome the Committee"s suggestion to make the definitionof "public purpose" specific and not give it unlimitedscope that is very often misused. But to leave out infrastructureprojects developed on a PPP-basis or by the private sector from thescope of "public purpose" and consider only thoseprojects being developed by the state is retrogressive. This willaffect overall development, especially in backward areas. In thecurrent situation, discriminating infrastructure projects on thebasis of ownership is not a balanced approach since all theseprojects are built in the larger public interest. Since theseprojects require large tracts of land, they often get stuck owingto difficulties in acquiring marginal holdings.

Hence, thedefinition of public purpose should include all infrastructureprojects, large industrial zones like national manufacturing andinvestment zones (spread over 5,000 hectares), industrial corridors(like the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor) and industry ormanufacturing for the limited purpose of facilitating acquisitionof marginal holdings. Not just acquisition, but even availability of land is going to bea major issue since the Committee has suggested restrictions onacquiring a variety of land areas. Earlier, the Bill had suggestedthat no irrigated multi-cropped land shall be acquired under theAct except as a last resort and that too only five per cent of thetotal irrigated multi-crop area in a district. Now, the Committeehas gone a step ahead.

First, it has suggested to replace"irrigated multi-cropped land" with "any landunder agriculture cultivation" to ensure food security. Thiswould effectively render 142 million hectares (or 43 per cent ofthe total land area of the country) out of the purview ofacquisition for industry or infrastructure. Second, the Committee has also suggested that, as far as possible,there should be no alienation of land or any land acquisition inScheduled Areas covered under Schedules V and VI of theConstitution. This issue needs to be re-examined since most of the fertile landfalls in the Indo-Gangetic plains that encompasses areas of Punjab,Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal — the mostdensely populated regions of the country. Lack of land availabilitywill further slow down the pace of job creation in industrial andmanufacturing sectors in these provinces.

And areas that arecurrently backward will remain in the same poor state. Therefore,it should be left to states to evaluate the need for usage ofagricultural land for the overall and balanced economicdevelopment. The Committee has also recommended that states beallowed to have their own approach and we agree with this. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci)has said industry is willing to provide appropriate price andrehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) to land owners andaffected parties. In fact, we have demanded that land use changesshould be notified much in advance, before the possession, so thatland owners can get a better price since they would then be awareof the development that will be carried out on their land.

Thiswould help in taking the land price to its actual market value andenable a fair compensation for affected families. This would notonly minimise problems arising out of the land acquisition processfor industry, but also help in faster execution of projects. The Bill allows the purchase of land for private purpose on awilling buyer, willing seller basis if a private company acquiresland less than 100 acres in rural areas and 50 acres in urbanareas. However, for acquisition above these levels, R&Rprovisions given in the Bill would apply.

The argument given forthe applicability of R&R provisions in private transactions isthat there are many families, and not just land owners, whoselivelihoods are dependent on the land and they need to becompensated for their loss of livelihood. This argument isfallacious since the root of the problem is lack of records of theaffected people and this is the responsibility of the government,not the private sector. If records of the affected people areavailable, then any market transaction will be able to capture thecost associated with project affected families also. We think theway in which R&R provisions are designed in the Bill would onlyincrease litigation and would hardly result in project completion.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee has itself noted in its reportthat the government hardly gave any time to stakeholders to submittheir views and to consider these. We only hope that such a Bill,which will stifle the growth of manufacturing and infrastructure inthe country, is not passed by Parliament. If passed, it will bedisastrous for employment generation. Kumar is Secretary General and Bijesure is Additional Director atFicci.

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