India's new land acquisition Bill, praised in some quarters and reviled in others, is a complex piece of legislation. It was passed by the Lok Sabha (29 August) and by the Rajya Sabha (5 September) as well. Recent obser¡vations by the Supreme Court: Justice Ganpat Singhvi of the Supreme Court has observed, in the wake of repeated violations that have come to light over the last few months, that the law has "become a fraud". He observed that the law seems to have been drafted with "scant regard for the welfare of the common man".
Need for new law: There is unanimity of opinion across the social and political spectrum that the current Law (The Land Acquisition Act 1894) suffers from various shortcomings, including:
Here are some interesting clauses of the new Act-to-be:
Lease option: The Bill allows industry to take land on lease, instead of buying. But the decision rests with the state rather than the landowner (explained in section 105)
Multicrop farmland: Irrigated farmland out of acquisition ambit for non-farm uses. But state can decide to what extent farmland should be protected. The farmer does not have any say in the matter.
Problematic clauses: No guarantee of jobs in R&R package; compensation calculated according to circle rates much less than market prices; no protection to farmland; state government to decide if unused acquired-land should be returned to the farmer or added to its land bank. This applies even if owners return the compensation.
Substantive amendments: There were 26 substantive amendments to the Bill and 13 amendments that have been made in accordance with the recommendations of the Standing Committee. A few: