False Food Security Alarm

Again, whenever any land is acquired or government decision is taken for declassification of any land from agriculture to commercial use, there is point that agricultural land is being acquired or declassified; it will lead to food insecurity. Problem of food security in India is not due to unavailability of agricultural land, but due to low productivity, lack of storage and transportation facility, lack of access of poor person to food grains and lack of incentive for farmers to cultivate. As industry and urbanisation needs large amount of land in thousands of acres in single stretch, land acquisition and declassification agricultural land is inevitable. On the other hand, agricultural land with irrigation facility is costly; a well meaning business man will not prefer an agricultural land when he has option to purchase a waste land or dry land.

Rehabilitation and Resettlement

Rehabilitation and resettlement is a pet topic for civil society activists, public interest litigants and mass media. As a nation, we have to confess that we are doing a raw deal to our land losers in land acquisition in the name of economic development and public purpose. RFCRRTLA Bill 2012 included components of R & R in the land acquisition legislation. However, there is a legal discussion, whether parliament has jurisdiction to legislate on transfer and alienation of agricultural land, which is a state subject under item 18 of state list in the seventh schedule of constitution. It is very difficult for us to understand the rational for inoculation of R & R in land acquisition legislation. First, India's diversity of land laws is much more than the diversity of the country and needs of the project affected people varies from project to project and region to region. Second, law on any system/subject brings in rigidity to the system. These issues can be better handled by guidelines and policy, which is more flexible.

We have to understand that the states are governed by democratically elected governments and responsible to their electorate directly. They are closer to the pulse of the people and have greater familiarity with the ground level situation. They can better safeguard the interest of the communities whose land is being acquired on the one hand and the requirement of the project conceived in the national interest on the other hand. When we compare the Jharkhand Voluntary land Acquisition Rule 2010 enacted under section 11(2) of LA Act 1894 along with the Jharkhand Rehabilitation and Resettlement policy 2008 on the one hand and recently introduced RFCRRTLA Bill 2012 on the other hand, former will be more suitable for local ground condition and flexible to the demand of local community and the requirements of the specific projects. In the post economic reform period, there is a fierce competition between states to attract investment into their state. Wisdom of state government will be in better position to balance between incentive for industrialist to attract investment and fulfilling the aspiration of electorate taking into consideration of ground reality.

RFCRRTLA Bill 2012 also included the private company which purchases land directly from market without government support if the area of land is more than 100 acres in rural area and 50 acres in the urban area within the ambit of R & R package. This provision not only violated. The Indian Contract Act 1872 and the Transfer of properly Act but also failed to understand the competition of industry in the globalisation era. In this globalisation era, new industries with R & R package not only have to competitive with other similar industry in India without R & R condition and also similar industry throughout the world. This provision takes back us into the socialist era and it will create a new type of dispute called project affected people disputes for which we do not have specialised body for dispute resolution. And in addition to this, the RFCRRTLA Bill 2012 included non land losers under R & R ambit, which will make the identification of beneficiary difficult and local unrest will be order of the day.

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