The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
In 2011, the union cabinet introduced the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill in the Lok Sabha, which became a law on September 26, 2013. It replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, which gave the government the power to acquire land for ‘public purposes’, such as building roads, railways, dams and other public utilities.
The 2013 Act aims to develop “a humane, participative, informed and transparent process for land acquisition” for industrialisation, infrastructure development and urbanisation, a process that includes institutions of local self-government and gram sabhas. It seeks to ensure that people affected when the central or state government, or private companies, acquire their land, are given adequate rehabilitation and resettlement and made ‘partners’ in the process.
What forms of land acquisition does this Act cover?
It covers land acquired by the government for its own use or for ‘public purposes’, including strategic purposes (for the army, navy, military or air force), infrastructure projects, agriculture-related activities (including agro-processing, warehousing, marketing infrastructure), mining and manufacturing, water conservation, educational and research institutions, public-private partnerships, among others. Private companies with a public purpose may request the government to acquire land as well.
How is an ‘affected family’ defined by this Act?
An affected family is one whose property has been acquired, or whose livelihood is directly or indirectly affected, by land acquisition. This can also include the landless – agricultural labourers, tenant farmers, sharecroppers or artisans working on the land for three years prior to its acquisition. Affected families also include those who depend on the land being acquired but live in urban areas; those with lands assigned to them under government schemes; and those dependent on forests, water bodies and other resources on the land. Finally, it includes the Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have lost any of their forest rights (recognised by the Forest Rights Act, 2006) due to land acquisition.
Is the consent of the families necessary before their land is acquired?
The Act mandates that the government must take the prior consent of people affected by the land acquisition. Where land is being acquired for public-private partnerships, the consent of 70 per cent of those affected is required, while acquisition for private companies needs the consent of 80 per cent.
What is the Social Impact Assessment study?
In addition to ensuring prior consent, the government must also conduct a Social Impact Assessment study with panchayats, gram sabhas, municipalities or municipal corporations. The study ascertains whether land is being acquired for a public purpose, the number of affected families and the social impact of the acquisition, among other parameters.
The government must hold a public meeting with the affected families and their views must be included in the study. Once complete, the study must be evaluated by an independent, multi-disciplinary expert group consisting of panchayat or municipal representatives, social scientists and others.
What is the mandatory compensation?
Families affected by the land acquisition in rural areas are entitled to a minimum compensation of one or two times the market value of their land; the value of assets attached to the land; and a grant (or ‘solatium’) of 100 per cent of the market value of the land. They are also entitled to rehabilitation and resettlement, which includes land, houses for displaced families, financial assistance to build a house, employment at the project for which land is being acquired, a monthly allowance of Rs. 3,000 for one year, and a one-time financial aid for displaced families, artisans, small traders, the self-employed, and SC/ST families ( among others). The aid amount varies depending on the occupation and category.
If adequate compensation is not given, what can people affected by land acquisition do?
If the collector (of the revenue district) does not give compensation to the families in the 12 months after land acquisition has been declared, the acquisition process will become invalid. The collector must ensure that provisions for resettlement are in place before the families are displaced. If there are disputes regarding compensation, the families can petition a state-appointed Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority. All disputes will be settled in public hearings.
Focus and Factoids by Sara Sohail.
Ministry of Law and Justice
Government of India, New Delhi
26 Sep, 2013