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#India – Rehabilitation in Land Acquisition Act flawed

KOLKATA, October 29, 2013, The Hindu

Medha Patkar says it has no arrangement for “alternative livelihood

Activist Medha Patkar addresses a seminar on the new Land Acquisition Act in Kolkata on Monday.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Activist Medha Patkar addresses a seminar on the new Land Acquisition Act in Kolkata on Monday.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

The process of rehabilitation of those who have lost their land and livelihood in land acquisition in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 is “severely flawed” as it has no arrangement for “alternative livelihood” and is only limited to monetary compensation, said social activist Medha Patkar here on Monday.

“If the rehabilitation process does not include arrangements for alternative jobs for those whose land has been acquired then it only becomes resettlement,” she said.

Ms. Patkar, however, did not reject the Act outright, as she welcomed the inclusion of the “role of the people whose land has been acquired” in it, adding that its presence in the Act is “slight.”

Emphasising the importance of “impact analysis” — the social, economic and political effect on those people whose land has been acquired — she said that “inclusion of impact analysis in the Act is welcome.”

Ms. Patkar claimed that in the Act, the processes of social impact analysis and assessment of the effects on environment of industrial projects for which land is being acquired will go on simultaneously. This will take more time.

“So social impact analysis and assessment of environmental effects should be included at the very beginning of the total process of development planning,” she said.

“Acquirement of agricultural land for industrial projects should be stopped and preference should be given to barren land for industrial development,” the social activist pointed out. Industrial set-ups like factories should come up on “non-agricultural” land, she suggested.

Claiming that there was a lot of scope for amendments, dialogue and debate in the new , Ms. Patkar said if opportunities to improve the Act were utilised, it would lead to the resolution of the conflict between the “land owners and the government” to a great extent.

Alleging that in most cases of land acquisition in the country, the interests of those making monetary investments in an industrial project were given primacy, she wondered how could those who lived for “generations on that land are sidelined in the process of acquisition.”

 

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