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Day 24 – Q. 3 What are the current challenges of India’s existing land acquisition legal framework? Is it too stringent? Critically examine.

  • IASbaba
  • December 21, 2022
  • 0
Agriculture, GS 3, TLP-UPSC Mains Answer Writing
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What are the current challenges of India’s existing land acquisition legal framework? Is it too stringent? Critically examine.

भारत के मौजूदा भूमि अधिग्रहण कानूनी ढांचे की मौजूदा चुनौतियां क्या हैं? क्या यह बहुत सख्त है? समालोचनात्मक जाँच कीजिए।


Approach –

In this question candidates need to write about what are current challenges of India’s existing land acquisition legal framework and whether  they are  too stringent or lenient .Examine critically .

Introduction –

Land acquisition is required for most of the nation building projects, however, it is not a simple process and is often the sole impediment in the development.This creates friction in federal nature of our polity as the state sensitivities are sometimes not realized by Union’s acquisitions.

Body –

Current challenges of of Land Acquisition Act-

The land Acquisition Act, 2013, was amended in 2015 which resulted in the following shortcomings:

  • The Social Impact Assessment was a must for every acquisition in the Act but the mandatory requirement was removed for security, defence, rural infrastructure and industrial corridor projects in the amendment.
  • Consent is not mandatory for government projects in the latest amendment. This can result in forceful evictions of land owners, without proper alternate arrangements for their rehabilitation and resettlement.
  • Earlier, multi-cropped land could not be acquired for any purpose but according to the latest amendment, even multi-crop irrigated land can be acquired for security and social infrastructure projects.
  • It leads to the issue of displacement of locals and even at times cut across ecological sensitive and bio diverse region.
  • The current legal framework for land acquisition adds additional complications. The compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement provisions of the RFCTLARR Act are not in consonance with those from 13 other related laws which have been exempted from the RFCTLARR Act.
  • These laws include major infrastructure-related laws such as the National Highways Act of 1956, the Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act of 1978, the Railways Act of 1989 and the Electricity Act of 2003
  • The government’s sentiment towards the RFCTLARR Act is also that it is an inconvenient piece of legislation that both impedes the speed and raises the cost of land acquisition: the RFCTLARR has already been challenged at the central level via two ordinances and two amendment bills.
  • With land being a State subject, States too have taken to State-specific legal reforms that bypass the RFCTLARR, many of which drop the need to conduct Social Impact Assessments (SIAs) for land acquisition and change land compensation amounts – two areas where the RFCTLARR is seen as inflexible and prescriptive by developers, but as key to ensuring people affected get a fair deal.
  • All of this, compounded with the majority of existing civil cases in district courts being land and property disputes, makes for a convoluted state of affairs in governing land acquisition where no one really wins.

Land acquisition issue as a major Impediment in the development process:

  • Delays important infrastructure projects and increases their costs making them unsustainable.
  • Increasing NPAs in infrastructure sector can be attributed to some extent to the delays in land acquisition.
  • Under the 2013 Act, land acquisition is estimated to take minimally four to five years. In addition, there remains uncertainty with respect to eventual successful completion of acquisition. There is need for a less time-consuming alternative to the current regime for private or PPP projects in areas such as rural roads, affordable housing, infrastructure and building cities remains.
  • Inadequate compensation to the owners, mostly poor farmers exclude them from agriculture as well as prevent them from a decent living standard.
  • Using agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, on one hand creates infrastructure whereas on the other hand serves as an impediment in the food security.
  • Poor land acquisition policies in one region can transfer the development to other regions with favourable policies.
  • The land to be acquired from the land owners should be acquired either on a long lease or in the form of equity for the proposed business. This option will ensure a steady income for the affected families.
  • Under the Indian Constitution, land acquisition belongs to the Concurrent List. Article 254(2) of the Constitution allows a state to amend a central act on the Concurrent List provided the central government approves of the amendment.
  • Under the present government, states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have amended several labour laws that fall under the Concurrent List. The same instrumentality can be applied to land acquisition subject to the central government giving its approval.
  • The role of governments should be restricted to ensuring that adequate provisions are made for the protection of interests of the landless tillers of the land to be acquired.
  • In case of outright sale, open bidding through minimum prices acceptable to all landholders.Alternatively, government may take land on long-term lease rather than purchase or acquire it. Again, landowners may find this option attractive because it allows them to keep ownership of land, earn an assured return and retain the option to renegotiate the terms once the initial terms of the lease expires.
  • Unfortunately, land acquisition is still an issue and is impediment to development projects. By reducing major land acquisition roadblocks like compensation issue, judicial delays etc. development in India can be accelerated. A major political push is required for this.

Conclusion

Although the intentions are noble, but certain lacunae in the act might lead to failure in the long run. Methods to make Landowners stakeholders should be devised. State level solutions can be implemented rather than a one size fits all solution.

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