Skip to main content

Ministries acquire land under their own laws as GoI amends acquisition law

By Venkatesh Nayak*
Parliament enacted the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (RFCTLARR Act) in September 2013. The Government of India (GoI) enforced this Act fully on January 1, 2014. This law repealed the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 under which the Central and State Governments acquired land for public purpose. By an Ordinance issued on December 31, 2014, GoI made several amendments to the RFCTLARR Act. One major aspect of these amendments was the inclusion of all 13 laws listed in the 4th Schedule within the RFCTLARR Act for the twin purposes of calculating and paying compensating persons whose lands are acquired for “public purpose” as defined in the Act, and also for ensuring their rehabilitation and resettlement (if they are displaced as a result of the land acquisition). The earlier chapters such as conducting Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and preparing a mitigation plan required under RFCTLARR Act do not apply to these Ministries administering these 13 laws.
RFCTLARR Act is not only important because it seeks to bring about a sea change in the manner in which appropriate governments acquire land from people for public purposes and how the affected and interested individuals and families must be compensated and rehabilitated and resettled, if displaced, but also because it places enormous emphasis on the transparency of all actions and decisions taken under this law. The Amendments made by GoI through the Ordinances do not take away from these transparency provisions. Every document relating to land acquisition under this law is required to be accessible to any person, let alone those affected by land acquisition, is to be made accessible to people on request or in a large majority of circumstances, publicised through various means including websites of the Ministries which acquire land for public purposes.
Under the RFCTLARR Act, Governments are required to comply with several procedures for identifying and acquiring land apart from compensating, rehabilitating and resettling the affected and interested people and families. This study looks at the manner in which Ministries under GoI have acquired land after the RFCTLARR Act was amended in December 2015. For the purpose of the study CHRI’s Research Team has looked up all notifications published by various Ministries under GoI relating to land acquisition from 01 January – 30 June 2015 as published on http://www.egazette.nic.in/. The relevant websites of the Ministries have also been checked for similar information to ensure comprehensiveness of the research. In this study we have covered 505 gazette notifications of Ministries and public authorities under GoI declaring:
  • Intent to acquire land for “public purpose” (NOIs);
  • The competent authority for the purpose of land acquisition (NOCAs); and
  • That they have acquired the land (NOAs) for the public purpose declared in the NOI.

Preliminary Findings

1) The study indicates that only the Ministries of Road Transport and Highways, Railways, Coal and Petroleum and Natural Gas under GoI have acquired land for “public purpose” during January 1 to June 30, 2015. We have found 219 such notifications published during the period.
2) This study does not reveal any instance of the use of the RFCTLARR Act by these ministries for the purpose of acquiring land for developmental projects. All 219 acquisitions have been made under the sector-specific land acquisition laws administered by each Ministry.
3) The Ministries have acquired land only for the purpose of building new highways or widening existing ones; prospecting or actually mining for coal; laying down railway tracks (segments of the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors amongst others) and pipelines for transporting petroleum, natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
4) Land has been acquired by these four Ministries in 1,584 villages situated inmore than 263 talukas in 141 districts across 22 States.
5) Two of the developmental projects are in Schedule V areas (inhabited by members of Scheduled Tribes) in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. According to Section 41 of the RFCTLARR Act, land may be acquired in a Scheduled Area only as a last resort and that too after obtaining prior consent of the Gram Sabha or the panchayat. Nothing in the Gazette notifications studied here mention details of such a process having been undertaken prior to the acquisition of land.
6) None of the notifications indicate that land has been acquired by any Ministry under GoI for defence purposes or rural electrification or affordable housing or housing for the poor – “special categories of public purposes” for which the appropriate governments may waive the requirement for doing SIAs and the subsequent procedures. These exceptions were introduced into the RFCTLARR Act through the Ordinances.
7) A large number of segments of land acquired are wetland or irrigated agricultural plots.
8) Between January 1 and June 30, 2015 the Ministries of Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Coal, Petroleum and Natural Gas and the Metro Railway issued 274 gazette notifications declaring their intention to acquire land for various developmental projects in more than 2,320 villages in more than 403 talukas in 157 districts across 21 States (see Table 4). The process of land acquisition is still going on in these projects.
9) During the entire six month period, these Ministries declared their intention to acquire land under their sector-specific land acquisition laws instead of the RFCTLARR Act, 2013 despite being brought under this law through the Ordinances issued in December 2014 and again in April and again June 2015 for the purpose determining compensation and ensuring rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced persons, if any.
10) The most number of NOIs in a State during the six month period under study pertain to Uttar Pradesh (34) followed by Rajasthan (33), Gujarat (27), Karnataka (24) and Tamil Nadu (19) occupying the remaining top 5 slots.
11) In terms of the most number of villages in any State affected by the NOIs issued during this period, Uttar Pradesh tops the list with more than 553 villages followed by Karnataka (349 villages), Chhattisgarh (25 villages), Rajasthan (172 villages) and Gujarat (166 villages) occupying the top 5 slots.
12) 3 projects for which NOIs have been issued in Jharkhand, i.e., 2 in Ranchi and 1 in East Singhbhum, and 4 projects in Chhattisgarh in the districts of Jashpur (2), Korba (1) and Surguja (1) are situated in areas covered by the Schedule V of the Constitution.
13) Two NOAs and five NOIs involve a private company, namely, Reliance Industries Ltd, for the purpose of laying pipelines for transport of natural gas through the State of Madhya Pradesh.
Given these findings, it is intriguing that GoI had impressed upon the President of India about the urgency of amending the RFCTLARR Act through an Ordinance repeatedly, while its own Ministries have not shown any interest in acquiring land under this law to demonstrate that the ‘urgency’ is very real.

Purpose of this Study

This study is not about questioning the decisions of government to implement developmental projects and acquire land for such purposes. The purpose of this research is to enable lawmakers, policymakers, civil society actors, academia, the media, and farmers’ groups to debate the manner in which land is being acquired for public purposes since January 2015 and debate how best the RFCTLARR Act may be implemented with or without amendments.
There has been some debate recently about allowing States the freedom to enact their own land acquisition laws or policies. I believe, Section 107 of the RFCTLARR recognises the power of States to enact their own laws or institute their own policies for providing better compensation or for making more beneficial provisions for resettlement and rehabilitation. Section 108 of the Act recognises the right of an affected person to choose between the Central or State laws as to which is more beneficial to them.
So, the big question is whether more efforts should be put in to educate people about the RFCTLARR Act and its counterparts in the States as and when they come into existence or to amend the Central law while the Ministries under GoI continue to do their thing under their sector-specific laws.

*Programme Coordinator, Access to Information Programme, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Delhi

Comments

TRENDING

Sorry state of Indian academics: why was I thrown out of Delhi varsity interview room?

By Dr. Abhay Kumar*  The interview for the post of political science (Guest) was scheduled on Saturday afternoon, September 10, 2022. Given my previous experience, I was not willing to appear for it. But friends persuaded me to go and fight for our rights. I reached the college well before the time. When my turn came and I entered the room. The first question was asked about my experience. I said that I had taught for four semesters at NCWEB. I mentioned that I had taught ”Comparative politics”, “International Relations”, “Comparative Political Thoughts” and “Indian Government and Politics”. I said that as a teacher I had taught all the articles listed in the syllabus of the same Delhi University and the expert could ask anything about any reading or ideas. Friends, the first question asked by a female member, perhaps she is the principal of the college if I am not wrong, to give the full form of NCWEB! The second question asked by a male expert, perhaps he is the political science dep

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Tokens, symbols or incipient feminists? : First generation women sociologists in India

By IMPRI Team  The online event on the theme ‘Tokens, Symbols or Incipient Feminists? : The first Generation of Women Sociologists in India’ was held as an initiative of Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi under the #WebPolicyTalk series of The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. Inaugurating the session, Zubiya Moin welcomed the speaker and participants to the program, followed by an introduction to the eminent panelists. Commencing the program, Prof Vibhuti Patel made her opening remarks welcoming Prof Kamla Ganesh, Feminist Sociologists and then greeted Prof Ratna Naidu and the editors of book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’, Dr Gita Chadha and Dr. Joseph M.T. along with Prof Arvinder Ansari and also welcomed all participants. She set up the stage by making us familiar with women sociologists and their works. Dr Gita Chadha, Editor of the book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’ After th

Omission of duty by BSF and police: Hindu forcefully kidnapped, taken to Bangladesh

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I am writing this to focus on the life and situation of the poor and marginalized villagers living alongside the Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal. Through the several complaints we made throughout the years to your good office, it is now evident that the people of this border are living in an acute crisis, not only from a financial perspective but also in terrible distress. The people of the border are devoid of their basic rights and are subjected to immense torture, harassment and restrictions mostly enacted by the Border Security Force personnel, who are supposed to be posted at the international borders with intentions to protect the Indian citizenry. However, on the contrary, incidents of victimizing Indian citizens are being witnessed at large by the BSF. 130 Bhot

Emerging dimensions of India’s foreign policy in the context of global politics

By IMPRI Team  The three-day course took place recently, providing participants with an understanding of the development of Indian foreign policy, the complexity of geopolitics, and its flexibility to adjust to and even shape global outcomes. Many distinguished academics, senior scholars, former Indian diplomats, and journalists who are skilled observers and commentators of India’s foreign policy will serve as instructors for this course. Day 1 The three-day immersive online certificate training on “Emerging Dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy and Global Politics”, an initiative by the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), began on July 14th, 2022 at 5:00 PM (IST) on Zoom platform. Dr Souravie Ghimiray served as the emcee throughout the 3 days of the event and welcomed the distinguished speakers of Day 1. The esteemed panel on Day 1 consisted of, Dr Soumita Basu, Associate Professor, Department of Intern

Demographic parameters of India@75: resource allocation, political representation

By IMPRI Team  As per UN Population Prospects 2022, India is going to be the most populous country in the world. In this regard, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi with #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , organized a panel discussion, #WebPolicyTalk, as part of the series The State of Population Development- #PopulationAnd Development on India@75: Most Populous Country? The moderator of the event was Mr Devender Singh, Global Studies Programme, University of Freiburg and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists for the event were Prof P.M Kulkarni, Demographer, Retired Professor of Population Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) , New Delhi; Dr U.V Somayajulu, Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Sigma Research and Consulting ; Dr Sonia George, General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Kerala; Prof K.S James, Director and Senior Professor, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. Th

Tamil Nadu govt claiming to reform Hindu religion, temples. People deserve better

By NS Venkataraman  For the last several decades, there have been hate campaign against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu in a subtle or not so subtle manner. Initially, it was a hate campaign against brahmins and the brahmins were abused, insulted and physically attacked. Fearing such conditions, many brahmin families left Tamil Nadu to settle down in other states in India or have gone abroad. Now, the brahmin population in Tamil Nadu is at microscopic level, for which these hate campaigners against brahmins were responsible. Later on, emboldened by the scenario of scared brahmin families not resisting and running away, the hate campaigners started focusing on Hindus. For some years, when M.G.Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were the chief ministers of the state, the hate Hindu campaigners were not much heard, as both these chief ministers were staunch believers in Hindu philosophy and have been offering prayers in temples in full public view. However, in the last eighteen months in

Bhagawat Gita shows the way for the attitude to life and desirable goal of life

By NS Venkataraman*  When a mother delivers a human body, this body has no identity. Then, parents, relatives, friends consult each other and discuss the alternate appropriate names and arrive at a suitable name for this human body and this body is known and identified by this name. This human body, which steadily grow just like animals, plants and others and after experiencing the pleasures and pains of worldly life alternately for several years, perish one day, for the body to be burnt or buried. This body, bearing a name as it’s identity, comes in to the world and goes away from the world and the name that is the identity for the body also goes away along with the body. This is the scenario for several thousands of years that have gone by. The question: One question that does not seem to be still “convincingly explained” in a way that will appeal to the brain in the human body, is as to whether this human body only consists of flesh, bone and blood with well

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Tattoos and intimidating gestures can't always win cricket matches for India

By Sudhansu R Das  Team India waited with baited breath for the outcome of the Pakistan vs Afghanistan match. Speculation was on about India’s return to the game if Pakistan loses to Afghanistan until Pakistan’s tailender, Naseem hit two massive sixes to win the match for Pakistan. Unfortunately, Afghanistan lost the match after being in a strong position till the last over of the game; two full touch balls in the final over turned the match into Pakistan side. The Afghanistan team would never forget this blunder and shock for a long time. India’s team management should introspect and take tough decision keeping in view of the tough match situation in the world cup matches. India lost two crucial matches in the Asia Cup. It could not defend a big total of 176 against Pakistan due to mediocre bowling attack, sloppy fielding and unimaginative captainship. It failed against Sri Lanka in similar fashion; it could not defend another respectable T 20 total of 171 runs. It was a pat