PUNE: The land acquisition bill, passed in the Lok Sabha on August 29, has civic activists and urban planners raising concerns about it being rural-centric. They say the government has completely ignored urban land acquisition and infrastructure development concerns.
The key features of the land bill are consent of landowners for acquiring land for private and PPP projects and compensation norms set at four and two times the market rate for rural and urban land respectively. The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012 is widely perceived to be necessary to get rid of an antiquated law which allowed governments to acquire increasingly scarce land for a pittance to be handed over to business houses to set up industries. The provisions of the bill will be applicable in cases where land acquisition is 50 acres or more in urban areas or 100 acres or more in rural areas.
Civic activists working for rehabilitation of project affected people, officials of industry bodies, town planners and real estate developers insist on additional provisions for land acquisition in urban areas in the existing bill or in a separate bill, though their reasons for seeking the same are different.
National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) an umbrella organization of various groups has said that the bill is essentially rural and it does not address urban land acquisition problems. In a press note it issued on August 29, NAPM said there was no land acquisition in urban areas, but eviction for every real estate and infrastructure development project, without guaranteeing right to shelter, life and livelihood. “The only provision is to compensate with 20% of developed land for land owning families in urbanisation projects,” stated NAPM in its press note, and pointed out that even this compensation eludes people when the land belongs to the government or private entities. In such cases, they are simply evicted. “We demand a separate section or a separate act for the millions of the urban persons and urban land from getting misappropriated. The bill with the presently proposed content needs to be called only rural bill,” stated the NAPM.
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FI issued a statement saying that the “…bill is a massive set-back for industrialisation and urbanisation of the country”. Cushman and Wakefield, a global consultancy firm, said that the compensation for land acquisition after the bill is passed will at least double in urban areas and will go up by four times in rural areas. Further, the clause of mandatory consent of 80% of the landowners for private projects, and mandatory consent of 70% of the landowners for public-private-partnership projects will delay the process of land acquisition, and the projects in turn.
“The government has not considered urban scenario while approving the bill. Cities like Pune will not be able to cope with rising population, and hence since last many years the state government is mulling over satellite towns and nodes around Pune. In this model, people would travel to the city to work and return to their homes in these satellite nodes and townships. Getting land in fringes around Pune is going to be very expensive and difficult because of provisions in the bill. The government should have made certain specific provisions for urban conglomerations,” said a state town planning department official. He added that the urban development department of the state government had in fact suggested this to the central government committee working on the bill.
Real estate developers in the city are for now not too rattled by the bill. Rohit Gera, Vice President, CREDAI Pune-Metro said, “The real estate market in the city is not going to be affected because of the bill. But if the bill provisions delay land acquisition for government projects in fringes, it will have direct- indirect impact on city’s economy and GDP.”
While the civic body is still studying the bill, it apprehends trouble ahead. Madhav Jagtap, assistant commissioner (PMC) said, “The PMC along with a team of legal experts is studying the bill. The corporation hardly needs about 50 acre land or more to develop its projects in city limits. However, this bill is applicable for major infrastructure projects. The PMC will draft its land acquisition policy based on the bill.”
PMC officials said that projects like Rajgurunagar-Chakan airport, garbage landfills or laying of a pipeline that will carry water from the reservoirs on the outskirts, ring road projects among others are going to be affected because of the bill.