‘Land laws changes to balance development, compensation’
Brushing aside criticism against changes in land acquisition laws, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said the amendments would ensure higher compensation to land owners while fulfilling developmental needs of the nation.
“The amendment... balances the developmental needs of India, particularly rural India, while still providing enhanced compensation to the land owners,” he said in his Facebook post titled ‘Amendments to the Land Acquisition Law —The Real Picture’. Pursuant to a decision of the Union Cabinet, President Pranab Mukherjee, after some inquiry, on December 31, 2014, promulgated an ordinance to amend provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (Amendment) Act, 2013.
The decision of the Cabinet to adopt the Ordinance route to push changes in the land acquisition laws evoked sharp reaction from former minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who had described the amendments as “disturbing” saying they would encourage forcible eviction.
Jaitley said the need to amend this Act was due and that it had been repeatedly mentioned that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 had become obsolete and needed amendment. “Those who are opposed to it can certainly mandate their party’s state governments not to use the provisions of the ordinance. History will judge how these states will lose out in the era of competitive federalism,” he wrote. Earlier, former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said the Land Acquisition Bill became an Act in September 2013 after hectic parleys between various political parties.
He said what was objectionable is both the Ordinance itself... the Ordinance route which is anti-democratic and, secondly the substance of the Ordinance.
Jaitley said the compensation provisions in the 1894 Act were highly inadequate and, “it was desirable that higher compensation coupled with a rehabilitation and resettlement package be provided. The 2013 Act did that. I support the 2013 Act on that ground.”
However, thirteen Acts of Parliament, which provided for land acquisition, were put in the Fourth Schedule of the Act, he said.
Section 105, which provided that the government could issue a notification and direct ‘any’ provision of the Act relating to compensation or R&R (Resettlement & Rehabilitation) would be made applicable to the exempted Acts.
The ‘Proposed’ notification had to be placed before Parliament for a period of 30 days and Parliament was expected to approve, disapprove or modify the said proposed notification.
“The need for an ordinance arose because such a notification would have to be put before Parliament in the Budget session itself in July-August, 2014, and the approval or disapproval taken accordingly,” he said.
December 31, 2014, being the last day for such a notification, the government decided to amend the Section 105 and apply all the compensation and R&R provisions of the 2013 Act to the thirteen exempted laws.
“Through this provision, the present ordinance provides that the farmers’ would get higher compensation if land is acquired under any of the exempted laws,” Jaitley said.