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Multiple Land Acquisition Laws and Multiple Authority of Land Acquisition

On the basis of Doctrine of Eminent Domain many land acquisition laws were enacted in India. The Central and State Acts are :

  • (1) The land Acquisition (Mines) Act 1885
  • (2) The Indian Tramways Act 1886
  • (3) The Land Acquisition Act 1894
  • (4) The works of Defence Act 1903
  • (5) The Damodar Valley Corporation Act 1948
  • (6) The Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act 1948
  • (7) The Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable property Act 1952
  • (8) The National Highways Act 1956
  • (9) The Madhya Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act 1956
  • (10) The Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act 1957
  • (11) The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958
  • (12) The Atomic Energy Act 1962
  • (13) The Petroleum and Minerals, Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of user in Land) Act 1962
  • (14) The Metro Railways (construction of works) Act 1978
  • (15) The Railways Act 1989
  • (16) The Electricity Act 2003 read along with the Indian Telegraph Act 1885
  • (17) The Special Economic Zones Act 2005 and
  • (18) The Cantonments Act 2006

Beyond this knowledge, there are some state laws for acquisition of land for state highways and also these acts have undergone number of amendments. Multiple acts in India lead to multiple authority for land acquisition. All legislation had its own procedure for acquisition and calculation of compensation and this led to confusion in the ground zero and also multiple land records of land acquisition. Multiple land acquisition in one district under different acts at the same time not only creates confusion among land losers and requesting agency and also revenue departmental officials and staff in the district.

Some of the acts listed above are not in tune with market economy and out dated. When the Coal Bearing Areas acquisition and Development Act 1957 enacted, India was a Socialist country and factors of production are mostly nationalised including coal mining. The Coal India Ltd was given authority to acquire land and rehabilitate the affected persons through appropriate compensation. After disinvestment in the post 1991 economic reform, The Coal India Ltd., is a listed company in the stock exchange; it has one of the highest market capitalisation of the country. The Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R &R) policy of the Coal India Ltd., and its subsidiaries are decided at their board meeting. The motto of a listed company in the stock exchange in any market economy can be maximisation of production at minimum cost. It can't be expected that the welfare activity to the projected affected people is one of the main function of the company. We do not understand the rational of retaining the power of eminent domain with a listed company which is a prerogative of a sovereign state. Again, The power Grid Corporation of India Ltd has authority to erect and pass over anybody land without paying any compensation to the land except damage for crop under electric wire (The Electricity Act 2003 read along with the Indian Telegraph Act 1885). Once the high transmission tower is erected, land owner can't grow trees below the transmission lines and can't construct building. Again, each transmission tower is erected on the land, which occupies around two decimals of land but the land owner is not eligible for any compensation for land and he is eligible only for damage to standing crops of that season only.

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