On December 31st 2014, the Union cabinet recommended an ordinance on Land Acquisition Act which was promulgated by BJP led Government to amend the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act (LARR-2013) enacted few years back by Congress led UPA Government.
The Government of India claims that aim of promulgating this ordinance is to "ease " the process of acquiring land meant for various development projects in various states of India. The Government of India is now planning to convert the said ordinance into a full-fledged legislation by making many amendments in the 2013 Land Acquisition Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act (LARR Act).
The amendment bill has already been introduced by Government in Lok Sabha and hectic bargaining is going on to make sure these amendments take place.
If we compare the amendments made in the Land Acquisition by the BJP led Government with the earlier Land Act (LARR-2013), one can easily make out that Land Acquisition Act enacted during the time of UPA (LARR-2013) was much more progressive, democratic and pro people. But as for as state of Jammu & Kashmir is concerned our previous Government led by National Conference miserably failed to enact the new Land Acquisition Act having similar provisions as that of UPA's Land Acquisition Act (LARR -2013). The absence of this law has caused huge loss to those citizens of the state whose land or property has been acquired by the Government for various developmental projects like road widening, construction of flyovers, buildings and other projects from the last couple of years.
Why new Land Acquisition Act for J&K ?
Land measuring thousands of kanals has already been acquired by the Government for six lanning of Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the work is under progress now, but the compensation being paid to the affected families amounts only to the market value of land and property and sometimes even less.
Similarly the land has been acquired by NHPC in Bandipora and Gurez for construction of a Hydro Electric Project and at many places the BEACON authorities too have acquired the land in Ganderbal and Kangan areas for road widening. Had the NC led Government enacted Land Acquisition Act (UPA –II version) in state all such effected families right from Lakhanpur to Baramulla, Ganderbal to Sonamarg or in Bandipura and Gurez would have been paid four time more than what they have been paid by the respective companies or Government organisations.
In addition to it many families would have been rehabilitated and resettled as well. This clearly indicates that in absence of new version of Land Acquisition Act in J&K, common people are the direct sufferers.
Injustice with City people :
Under the new Land Acquisition Act, property and land which is acquired in urban areas would be paid compensation double the market value of the said land / property etc., and in rural areas where the property rates are comparatively less the compensation would be paid four times more than the exact market rate of the land / property.
There are several areas in Srinagar's old city where many residential houses / shops have been dismantled recently for a road widening project (from Nawpora to Nowhatta). For example if a family from Khanyar in Srinagar was paid Rs 20 lakhs as compensation for the dismantled house or shop during road widening, but if we had new Land Acquisition Act (UPA version) enforced in J&K the same family would have got Rs 40 lakhs plus a job and land to construct a house as well.
The new Land Acquisition law does not only guarantees high monetary compensation but it guarantees for Rehabilitation & Resettlement as well.
The compensation under new Land Acquisition Act (UPA version) is to be paid retrospectively under this act (from 2011). But all this not going to be a reality in our state unless we have such a law in operation as soon as possible.
No to BJP's Land Acquisition Act:
The amendments made in the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 (UPA version) by the BJP led Government are totally anti people and anti farmer. The new amendments call for forcible acquisition of the land as Government need not to seek permission from the owners of the land for execution of work on any so called mega developmental project.
The previous Land Act (UPA version) had provisions to seek permission from 80 % of the people of area where a Private company wanted to acquire the land for some project and similarly for Government project 70 % of the people had to give their consent fist, but under the recent amendments no such permission is needed by the authorities and this is nothing but a gross human rights violation.
All this clearly indicates that PM, Narendra Modi instead of having concern for poor is more concerned towards strong corporate lobby and capitalist forces who would be the direct beneficiaries under the new amendments made in Land Acquisition Act.
I hope that PDP led Government will enact new version of Land Acquisition Act in the state very soon but before doing so Government must hold consultations with all the stake holders so that people's genuine concerns are given top priority.
Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syed must not fall prey to BJP's anti farmer, anti poor, and pro corporate policy and his Government must not at all adopt the recent amendments made in Land Acquisition by NDA Government at centre.
The UPA version of new Land Acquisition Act (LARR-2013) should be adopted by J&K Government for preparing the draft bill of new J&K Land Acquisition Act. A private members bill on new Land Acquisition has already been submitted by Mr Naeem Akhtar (Education Minister) in the legislative council last year and that can also be used by the Government for ready reference.