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The Amendments to the bill related to the acquisition of Land had been adverse with the Government bringing in reforms from time to time. Acquisition of land in the cases where the land is acquired for laying down the pipelines for transport of petroleum from place to another, the right of the owner in the land remains preserved with him subject to certain limitations. The Land Acquisition Act takes away the right of the owner and transfers it to the other person for the commercial purpose but under this act i.e The Petroleum & Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of the Right of the User in Land), 1962, limits the power of the owner in the ownership of the Land, but the land still remains with the user.
With the increase in policies, demand and development of petroleum resources in the country there had been substantial increase in the production of crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products. It is a necessity to lay down the petroleum pipelines in the country to serve as an efficient and cheap means of transportation and distribution of petroleum and related products.
The procedure laid down under the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring the land is long drawn and costly. Petroleum pipelines are generally laid down under the land, so therefore is no specific needs to acquire the ownership of the land. Therefore, in the case of these pipelines it is considered sufficient to acquire the mere right of the user in the land or laying and maintaining the pipelines.
Notification of Acquisition
Under Section 3 of the Act, Central government and the state government by notification in the official gazette, may declare its intention in the interest of Public. The purpose behind notification is that it appears to the government that it is necessary in the interest of public that for the transportation of petroleum from one locality to another pipelines to be laid down. The government through notification shall give brief of the land and the competent authority shall cause the substance to be published at such places and the manner as prescribed.
Power of the Government upon the Notified Land
- Enter upon and survey and take levels of any land specified.
- To dig or bore into sub-soil
- To set out the intended line of work.
- To mark such levels, boundaries and line by placing marks and cutting trenches.
- To take and make boundaries and line marked to cut down and clear away any part of any standing crop, fence or jungle
- to do all other acts necessary to ascertain whether pipelines can be laid under the land.
The injury caused to the land should be minimum so that the land could be used for future purposes.
The government after the notification of acquiring the land gives rooms for raising objections. Without this provision of raising objections the act of the government will be arbitrary and will no room for the rule of law. To avoid this arbitrariness the government gives provisions of raising objections.
Section 5 of the said act deals with hearing of the objections and making the inquiry in the acquisition of the land. The notice for the objections needs to be served within twenty-one days from the issue of the notification.
The objects raised within twenty-one days needs to raise before the competent authority. The notice shall be in writing and should set out all the grounds thereof. The competent authority shall give the objector an opportunity of being heard either in person of by a legal practitioner.
It is at the discretion of the competent authority to look into the merits of the objections and to decide on it. After the hearing of the objection the decision took by the competent authority shall be final.
Land excluded from Acquisition
Under Section 7 of the Act limits the Government from laying down the pipelines. The lands excluded from acquisition under the act include:
- If the land notified under the notification was used for residential purpose.
- Land on which stands any permanent structure which was in existence immediately before the notified date.
- Land appurtenant to dwelling house.
- Land at a depth which is less than one metre from the surface,
The land acquired under the act shall be used only for laying the pipeline and for maintaining, examining, repairing, altering or removing any such pipeline. If any dispute arises with the use of pipeline, the decision of the competent authority shall be final.
Restrictions to the Use of Land
The basic purpose of the act is to make the use of the land for the public purpose. Section 9 of the act gives power to the owner of the land. The land after acquisition shall be entitled to use for the purpose for which such land was put immediately before the date of notification. The limitations to the use of land include:
- Owner is not allowed to construct any building or any other such structure
- Owner is not allowed to construct or excavate any tank, well, reservoir or dam.
- Cannot plant a tree.
- The owner or the future occupier of the land is not permitted to do any act which is likely to cause any damage in any manner whatsoever to the pipeline.
Under Section 10 of the Act, every person is liable to be compensated under this act whose land had been acquired under the notification by the government. When there is any objection with respect to the inadequacy of the compensation received by the competent authority, a suit can be initiated under this Section before the District Judge within the limits of whose jurisdiction the land or any part of the land is situated.
While determining the amount of compensation, the court should take in due regard the damage or loss sustained by any person interested in the land by reason of:
- Removal of trees of standing crops from the land.
- Temporary severance of the land which the pipeline has been laid from other lands belong, to or in the occupation of, such person
- In case of injury to any other property whether im/movable or the earning of such person caused in any other manner.
In addition to the compensation, the owner is liable and any other person who has right of enjoyment under the land has been affected, compensation calculated at a ten per cent of the market value of that land on the date of notification.
Any person who destroys damages or displaces any trench or mark made under section 4 or wilfully does any act prohibited under section 9, shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months or with fine or with both.
Whoever wilfully removes, displaces, damages or destroys any pipelines laid under section 7, shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment for a term shall not be less than one year, but which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.