Barring Odisha and Punjab, no state acquired land under UPA law
New Delhi: Except for Odisha and Punjab, no state has acquired land under the land acquisition Act of 2013, according to data furnished by 20 states to the Joint Committee of Parliament examining contentious amendments to the law.
One of the contentions of the NDA government for bringing amendments through an ordinance to the UPA's land law of 2013 was that it was necessitated because the states had complained of difficulty in acquiring land under the old Act.
The states were asked by the panel to furnish the details of land acquired after the 2013 law came into force following Opposition's rejection of the contention that Modi government had to bring the ordinance to enable states to tide over difficulties in land acquisition.
The BJP-ruled Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand have not given any data regarding land acquisition to the Committee so far, while 20 states and Union Territories have furnished related information to the panel.
Of these, 18 states have acquired no land since the 2013 Act came into force. They include Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh, Congress-ruled Assam, West Bengal ruled by TMC, BJP-ruled Gujarat, Aam Aadmi Party-ruled Delhi and AIADMK-ruled Tamil Nadu.
States and Union Territories which have acquired "nil" land include Northeastern states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura, besides Goa, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep, Puducherry, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The BJD government in Odisha has acquired 303.564 acres of private land under Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013.
The panel has asked the state governments to confirm whether the land has been acquired under RFCTLARR Act, since the rules have not been notified yet.
In Punjab, ruled by SAD and BJP, the government has acquired only 26.54 acres of land under the 2013 Act.
No land has been acquired under the 2013 Act in Andhra Pradesh till now.
However, compensation has been paid there for acquiring 86.07 acres of land in Visakhapatnam initiated under old land acquisition Act of 1894 where award had not been passed.
This is being done as per Section 24(1) of the 2013 land acquisition Act and the amount of compensation is about Rs 18.49 crore.
The Joint Committee of Parliament examining the contentious land bill of 2014 has so far met three times on the issue, beginning May 29, during which almost 300 farmers' organisations have submitted memoranda that mostly criticise the provisions of the Ordinance.
Members wanted to know the details of land acquired after the 2013 law came into force as also parcels acquired since the Ordinance making changes in that law came into effect in December, 2014.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the government's arguments in favour of the bill, the members demanded a "composite" inter-ministerial reply on the issue, which was provided.
In a bid to ensure that the committee is able to table its report on the first day of the Monsoon Session, it will meet twice every week. The Monsoon Session usually begins mid-July.
While the 2013 law required the consent of 80 per cent of land owners to be obtained for private projects and 70 per cent for PPP projects, the present bill exempts five categories -- defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects, including public private partnership (PPP) projects, where the government owns the land -- from its purview.
The 2013 Act also required a social impact assessment to be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired. This provision has been done away with.
The LARR Act, 2013, required that land acquired under it which remains unutilised for five years be returned to the original owners or the land bank.
The new bill states that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be five years, or any period specified at the time of setting up of the project, whichever is later.
Several members of the 30-member committee also objected to the new provision and dubbed it as "pro-corporate". Almost the entire Opposition and even some allies of the ruling NDA like Shiv Sena and Swabhimani Paksha, are against various provisions of the amendment bill brought by the government.
Congress and Left parties have been specially targeting the Modi dispensation on the bill and project it as "anti-farmer and pro-corporate".
The government, has so far promulgated the Ordinance thrice since December after it faced stiff resistance, especially in Rajya Sabha, where it does not have the numbers.
In the last session, it agreed to refer it to a Joint Committee of Parliament. The sources added that once the report is submitted by the joint panel, the Upper House will have to either accept or reject it and hence take a decision on whether to pass the bill or reject it.
In case it rejects the bill after the committee report, it may pave the way for a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament.