Latest amendments in the Land Acquisition Bill cause a stir in the realty market
Land Acquisition Bill tabled today by the Modi government triggered an uproar in the Parliament, with the Opposition contending that the Bill was not pro-farmers. This has not gone down well with civil society activist Anna Hazare who is holding a protest at Jantar Mantar, near parliament today in lieu of this.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill 2015 will replace an ordinance which had been announced by the NDA government on December 30 last year. BJP president Amit Shah also formed an eight-member committee to seek farmers’ suggestions on the Land Acquisition Bill.
The changes that have sparked off reactions from the industry include:
1. Removal of Consent Clause: The tabled Bill has amended the clause where all parties required an approval from a minimum of 80 per cent of land owners before acquiring the land. As per the changes made in Section 10 (A) of the Act, government or private individuals/companies seeking land for national security, defense, rural infrastructure including electrification, industrial corridors and housing for the poor including private-public partnership (PPP) need not seek consent from farmers.
2. Removal of Social Impact Assessment: Earlier, there was an assessment required before the land was acquired to address the concerns of the social impact of land on farmers or agriculture sector. However, the amendment tabled today removed the need for such an assessment, even if it meant the land was fertile or if any other party apart from the land owner was impacted by the decision. For instance, even if there is fertile land in Noida Extension, it can still be acquired without a social assessment if it befits any requirement as mentioned above.
3. Additional sectors included in the Bill: The government has proposed to include previously excluded 13 Sectors in the purview of Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill (LARR), which is lauded as a pro-farmer move. Land owners from these sectors who earlier had no clarity on compensation will now be able to claim resettlement, rehabilitation and compensation.
Further, the compensation made to the farmers remains the same as was in the last ordinance passed by the NDA government last year. As per the ordinance, compensation would be four times the market value of the land in rural areas and two times the market values in urban areas.
It remains to be seen how the policymakers, developers and industry experts will respond to this announcement. Given that the amendments are not pro-farmer, the outcome may differ for the developer community and the farmer fraternity.