Land Acquisition - What the debate is about?

Land Acquisition - What the debate is about?

Buy land, they're not making it anymore.” - Mark Twain. The Indian situation is becoming similar to this. Land in India is considered as a prestige symbol, a symbol of wealth. Since independence there has been an effort for land grabbing. Many regulations and acts tried to avoid accumulation of land in hands of few but to limited success.

The rich colluded with the officials to bypass these stringent rules thus defeating the purpose of these acts.

These acts also affected agriculture as holding size decreased due to them and this led to difficulties in mechanization of agriculture, thus affecting the agricultural productivity. Also large tracts of land were now unavailable for planned development.

The Land Acquisition Act, 1894 governed land acquisition, which was replaced by Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act, 2013) which came into force on January 1, 2014.

An amendment bill was introduced in 2015 in the Lok Sabha and it has passed in Lok Sabha. The topic of land acquisition is generally painted as the one of the farmers versus the others. However, the ground reality is quite different. It does not have just these two poles but the debate has many sides and stakeholders which have their own concerns and interests.

Land Losers

1. They stand to be the biggest losers on many fronts.

2. They need to evacuate their land with no place to go. In most of the cases they need to start a new life which is very difficult.

3. There is no clear rehabilitation and resettlement policy.

4. The compensation is not satisfactory and enough. And even if it is enough, it is not received in a time bound manner.

5. The people have to leave the land to which they are emotionally attached. They are leaving a part of their culture. This problem is aggravated in case of tribal people.

6. LARR 2013 act provided for a complete package regarding rehabilitation and resettlement. However, the recent 2015 amendment has modified the provisions to the detriment of the farmers.


1. Delay in land acquisition increases the project costs.

2. The compensation to be provided is too high and difficult to achieve.

3. The rules and regulations are complex and unclear regarding the acquisition. Each time a new set of rules emerge thus undoing the earlier efforts.

4. Getting land with clear title is difficult. There is also issue of acquisition of agricultural land.

5. Lack of coordinated efforts by the state and central government in cases of acquisitions hamper the industrial development and drive investors away.

6. 80% consent clause, passing of Social impact assessment, etc. is making it difficult to acquire land. This has led to standstill of many investment projects.

7. The provision of returning land which has been unutilized for 5 years is a cause of concern as sometimes the project development phase extends beyond five years.

8. Land market in India is unorganized thus making it difficult to acquire land.


1. Land comes under state list. No clear segregation between state and central policy of acquisition, compensation and rehabilitation. Many state governments are opposing the LARR Acts and amendments as states have a sole right to frame their own laws on land acquisition.

2. No clear definition of public purpose. This gives space for wide interpretation, abuse and creates controversy too.

3. They are not getting large tracts of land for planned development as in India land holdings are fragmented due to Land Ceiling Acts and wastelands were distributed to the landless during the period of these land ceiling acts.

4. Forced acquisitions by government create a problem for the industries. E.g. Tata Nano factory which was proposed in Singur, West Bengal.

5. The issue of corruption of authorities is also a major point in debate.

Recent Issues due to the 2015 Amendment

1. The Bill seeks to exempt the following five types of projects from certain provisions (like Social Impact Assessment, limits on acquiring agricultural and multi-cropped land, 80% consent clause for private project, etc.) of the Act: (i) defense; (ii) rural infrastructure; (iii) affordable housing; (iv) industrial corridors (set up by the government); and (v) infrastructure projects. This basically covers most of the areas of development.

2. It requires that the prior sanction of the government be obtained before prosecuting a public servant in terms of offense committed during acquisitions.

3. The period after which unutilized land needs to be returned will be five years, or any period specified at the time of setting up the project.

4. Role of gram Sabha or Panchayats not mentioned clearly.

Thus one can see that this issue has many facets and each is complexly intertwined. Unless all the stakeholders pitch in, the debate will not end and will always leave some or the other party unhappy, thus fermenting discontent, which will as usual undo the progress. Also, one must always bear in mind that any development of the infrastructure to connect villages to their markets will need land.
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  • RE: Land Acquisition - What the debate is about? -Deepa Kaushik (09/07/15)
  • Land Acquisition has become a highly discussed topic now-a-days. Still we are unable to get a conclusion over this matter. The main setback behind the inability to implement a strong rule in this regard is the lack of transparency and clarity in the laid details of the rules.

    The land acquisition bill has failed go please any sect of people. Be that be farmers, or the business class or the government; nobody is aware of the clause and effects of implementing this rule. The farmers who would lose their land are uncertain for their further employment opportunities. They don't have a uniform slab to get the renumeration against their land. Without a stable platform for their payment and employment further to earn their livelihood, they are not willing enough to lose their source of income. For the lower section of the society, who are unaware of any othetr occupation, but just farming, it would be highly unfair to snatch their employment without a replacement job.

    For the business class, who have already invested on the land are in a fix and unable to understand the grouds on which they have to make the payment. They don't have any definite guideliness according to which they have to make the payment. Again, the land acquisition bill has no definite guidelines for the payment to the farmers whose land would be acq uired for the public utilization facilities like roads, parks, pavement areas etc.

    With much confusion prevailing, the land acquisition bill definitely requires remodelling and amendments, completing the terms and conditions in every aspect, before looking forward for a positive nod to implement it across the country.