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This article has been written by Mahima Mishra.

Introduction

The legislatures through which the land acquisition has been governed in our country is the oldest one, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 moving to Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and at last to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and resettlement Ordinance, 2015. These laws govern the land acquisition combined. Also, these laws related to land acquisition themselves talk about the laws related to the compensation that has to be provided while acquiring the land. The basic intent behind taking both the things on the same platform is that the acquisition of land happens thoroughly while the interests of both the landowners as well as the authorities were taken into concern. These laws are combined also with the aim to prevent any backlash. In these laws, some essential conditions have to be fulfilled before acquiring any land that:

(a) The compensation has to be mandatorily provided to the landowners; and 

(b) The acquisition of the land should be made for the sole purpose of public use only.

For the sake of rights of the landowners as well as for making the above process smooth, the government has found the need to bring up with the new laws rather than making small changes in the previous ones. Thus, for achieving the above purpose the government has come up with the new legislations like Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013 which has been moved forward with some amendments and later brought out as the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Ordinance Act, 2015. The changes that have been made in the Acts are difficult to be understood by various persons. This case-based article aims towards the legislative changes made out in the above acts comparatively. The change that has been made in the acts then was explained with the help of some case studies.

Land Acquisition Acts in India: a Comparison

The Land Acquisition Act, 1894 has remained the only legislation used for the purpose of land acquisition for more than a century. But as per the need of the time, changes have to be made in the Act. Thus, the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 has been introduced which has later been updated with the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Ordinance, 2015.

While in the Act of 1894, no provision has been mentioned for the consent of the persons. Later on, in the Acts of 2013 and 2015, a minimum percentage of 70 percent consent for public-private partnerships was required for the acquisition of land. Five different sectors have been exempted from the category. Also, as per the Act of 1894, the intended use of land is prohibited in determining the price of the land and only its current use is taken into consideration. Later in the Acts of 2013 and 2015, the value specified in the stamp duty was taken into consideration.

As per the Act of 1894, the compensation has been provided to the persons as per the market value of the land while as per the Acts of 2013 and 2015, compensation of two times the value of market price has to be provided in an urban area while compensation of four times of market value has to be provided in the rural areas.

Comparative analysis of land acquisition provisions: case study

With the help of the Acts that has been explained above, in this part, we are going to make a comparative study of the Land Acquisition Acts and their practical usage with the help of the below cases. The cases are as follows:

The first one describes the failure of the land acquisition acts while the other one describes its success. With these case studies, we are also going to see the practical usage of these acts and the places where reforms are needed. Thus, the case study proceeds as follows:

Tata Motors (Nano) Project, Singur

The government of West Bengal, in 2006, acquired a large piece of land of about 997 acres to be provided to Tata motors for the establishment of its manufacturing unit in Singur. This land is primarily used for agricultural purposes. The government, with the help of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, has acquired the above land and paid the compensation to the landowners respectively. But the general public of that area was not satisfied with the action of the present government as they say that no consent has been taken from them before the acquisition and thus, they opposed the decision of the government. Thus, the opposition of the general public turned into a wide protest with the involvement of the other political parties. Thus, for the sake of its people’s rights, the government has decided to increase the compensation by one-fourth of the original one. But this increase in compensation will only be provided to those persons who own the land and not to those persons who have lost employment because of the same.

Thus, the protests start gaining the attention of the national and international media after violence breaks out in the region. Thus because of these protests and violence, Tata Motors has decided to take a step back and set up the unit in another state. One of the surveys conducted claims that a large number of farmers haven’t been provided with adequate compensation and their portions of the land were misinterpreted in the records. A community of workers and farmers were not able to find jobs and thus became unemployed. Thus, the above acquisition of the land has raised several economic difficulties in the life of the common people. Landowners were not compensated properly and the small farmers and workers had to face unemployment because of the land acquisition. Thus, this case explains the hardships that have to be faced by the general public while the land acquisition happens, and thus it also gives a view of how different a policy seemed on paper as well as on the ground level.

Reasons for failure  

As the analysis made previously the loopholes of the Act of 1894 has been fulfilled in the Act of 2013. Because of the old Act of 1894, the failure of the land acquisition in West Bengal was seen. Some of the reasons for its failure are as follows:

  • While the acquisition of the land, no previous consent has been taken by the authorities; 
  • The Act has been failed to fulfil the needs of the vulnerable groups and the affected persons because of which the protests has happened widely;
  • In the matter of compensation, the authorities have acted badly. The compensation has been decided on the basis of records not on the basis of market price. But there was an issue related to the stamp duty which has to be paid by the people. This adds an element in the protests;
  • The above Act doesn’t have any provision to provide employment and shelter to the affected persons which has raised a concern of matter of life among them;
  • The land acquired by the government was mainly agricultural land which gives high production of crops. Thus, the farmers were not agreed and satisfied to give these agricultural lands.

Koyambedu Market, Chennai

The Koyambedu Wholesale Market has been established by the Chennai Development Authority with the sole aim to reduce the crowd in the market. The market has been in the area outside of the crowded place but yet it is accessed by the residents of the city. The market has been linked with the Railway Stations, International Airport and the important bus terminal of the city. The area of the market is divided totally into blocks covering an overall area of 295 acres. 

These blocks are divided based on types of businesses like fruits, vegetables, flowers, etc. It is estimated by the authorities that a large number of people will visit the market every day. While the acquisition of the land was in the process the authority has worked beyond the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. Compensation in the form of cash has been provided to the landowners directly and for the crops also. A compensation of interest of about 12 percent will be paid to the people for the period of difference between notification and land acquisition. The people of that area have been relocated safely by the authorities. This project has worked successfully and its success can be analyzed through the following points:

  • The compensation has been provided effectively by the authority while taking the interest of all the persons; 
  • The compensation has been provided the on the basis of market value and not on the basis of land records; and
  • Despite the provisions of the act, the authority has provided shelter to the persons and lessens the difficulties in the path of the land acquisition because of which it gets completed successfully.

Critical Analysis

The above analysis of both the case studies has been done as one becomes successful while the other becomes unsuccessful despite governing by the same legislation.

The first project of Tata Motors clearly shows one thing that for the completion of a successful acquisition, the rights of the people residing in that area have to be kept in mind mostly. If their rights have been neglected by the authorities then it creates a problem before them that costs them heavily. This case has been taken as the basis for study from which various provisions have been included in the Land Acquisition Act of 2013. Because of the loss of this project the state has lost an opportunity. The project can give numerous job opportunities for the local people and can contribute heavily to the state economy. 

The second project is the one from which many lessons have to be learned. This project has relied upon the advancement rather than provisions only. It has evolved as a role model for the Acts of 2013 and 2015. Although the Chennai Development Authority doesn’t rely on the above Acts, they have ensured that a smaller number of difficulties should come up in the path of land acquisition, and thus it has completed successfully with many difficulties.

Findings and suggestions

From the above case-based analysis of the Land Acquisition Acts in our country, it can be found that the laws that were made in the past have to be changed in accordance with the time. The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 has been used widely for more than a century but no big reforms have been made in the same. Thus, with the changing social, economic and political system the law has become incompetent. 

Thus, the need for a new law has arisen and thus the Acts of 2013 and 2015 have been introduced. It can be observed from the comparative analysis of all the three-land acquisitions that if a smooth system has been provided to the landowners while considering all their rights of shelter, food, etc. then no big problems will arise in the acquisition. The authorities have to be ensured that the basic rights of the general public shouldn’t be violated while acquiring the land. More reforms in the law have to be made in the upcoming time with the changing social needs of society.

Conclusion

Comparative analysis has been done of the Land Acquisition Acts from the past to the present condition. The legislation has been evolved with the provisions such as beneficiary compensation, rehabilitation, and the interest of the landowners which lacks in the Act of 1894 while was added later in 2013 and 2015. Some major projects have been included between the enactment of the 2013 and 2015 Acts. Thus, it can be seen from the analysis of the first and second case that if the conditions are not in the interest of the people, then many big failures can occur. Thus, the authorities have to ensure that proper compensation, rehabilitation, and other things have to be provided to the people so that the condition of conflict doesn’t arise in the locality.


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