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Land Aquisition Bill, 2015 - Summary

Published on Thursday, March 12, 2015
‘The Land Bill 2015’ – which is making quite a noise in the Lok Sabha these days is actually - ‘The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015’ – phew!

For brevity’s sake, let us say the ‘Land Bill, 2015’ started it journey when in December 2014 – the Modi Government promulgated the Land Ordinance, 2014.

The Ordinance aimed to immediately put into effect certain amendments to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (popularly referred to as the ‘LARR Act, 2013’).

The Ordinance was finally introduced to legislature and passed through the Lok Sabha on 10th March 2015 with nine amendments being approved.

The next stage for the Land Bill to become an Act will require it being successfully passing through the Rajya Sabha and then the President’s approval and signature!

But why land acquisition act? When your parents bought a land and built a house on it – were they covered under LARR Act?! Are you covered under LARR Act?! NOPE.

LARR is for when the Government or Private Companies acquire/ purchase land from people like you and me (privately owned land) for ‘public purpose’. So when Government takes away your land for public purpose – it renders you in a severe financial crisis – what should be the adequate compensation for you?

And remember, for ‘public purpose’s’ projects lands into multiple acres are acquired at a time – so you and your neighbours lose your lands – maybe you are rural farmers or sub-urban middle class people – what will the social impact of this compulsory acquisition?

All these very important socio-economic factors are addressed through the Act – or at least sought to be addressed through the Act – so protect public’s interest in every way – at least that is the intention!

Land laws are very important simply because land is very important – privately owned lands by farmers don’t come easily to them and if they lose their livelihood to ill-conceived Government acquisitions then it is not only gravely unfair – but it disturbs the socio and economic equilibriums.

LARR Act, 2013 was a huge improvement on the draconian Colonial Land Law; and the current Bill proposes to better the Act of 2013 with amendments.

No wonder there’s a lot of noise in the Lok Sabha – Rajya Sabha’s still pending!

Salient features of the Land Bill, 2015:-

  1. Five categories of land use has been created:
    (i) Defense and national security projects,
    (ii) Affordable Housing = housing for the poor,
    (iii) Rural/ Social Infrastructure,
    (iv) Industrial Corridors,
    (v) PPP infrastructure projects, wherein Central Government own the lands;

    and these five categories do not require the Social Impact Assessment to be done and neither require 70-80% approval of the landowners for private/ PPP projects respectively.

  2. However to protect the farmers and farmlands there are restrictions imposed on acquisition of irrigated multi-cropped and other farmlands. Since India’s major population thrives on agriculture and agricultural land owners are poor – this one is to safeguard there interests.

  3. Moreover, one person from each family of farm labourers will be given (guaranteed) employment when the land on which they were employed as farm hands is acquired.

  4. The Amendment also looks to limit the amount that can be acquired for industrial purposes

  5. In the LARR Act, 2013 – ‘private companies’ was mentioned. The Bill has changed the wordings to ‘private entities’ which bring many other institutions under the purview of the Act, such as companies, NGOs, NPOs, corporation, firms and individual etc.

  6. Land if unutilized will be returned after the later of (i) 5 years, or (ii) such period as is mentioned at the time of setting up of the project agreement. Earlier it was just 5 years.

    Some projects may by their inherent nature require more time to materialize and hence the ‘later’ period clause has been introduced.
  7. The LARR Act, 2013 did not apply to 13 other Statutory Acts, such as the Atomic Energy Act, Petroleum Act, Railways Act, Electricity Act etc. – these have been brought under the purview of the Land Ordinance, 2014 and to be included ultimately into the Amendment Act, 2015 – which will require amendments and RS approval on those 13 Act separately too!

  8. Private Hospitals and Private Educational Institutions which were earlier excluded from the LARR 2013, are now through the proposed bill brought under the purview of the LARR.

  9. One for the Government Officials – if an offense is committed by a Government Official he can only be prosecuted with prior approval of the Government.

These are the 9 important amendments passed in the Lok Sabha and worth noting for competitive exams and interviews.

There is ambiguity as to 9 or 11 amendments – we’ll actually know the score when the Bill becomes and Act and the amendments are published officially – some maybe declined in Rajya Sabha - as of now the above mentioned points are worth remembering.

Must also read Union Budget 2015

Hope this piece was helpful and informative!

Have a good day!

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