An Act Disabling and Restricting Acquisition by the Government even for Defence, National Security and emergency situations arising from Natural Calamities.
It is noteworthy that the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, has a far and wide operation. It includes:
“…strategic purposes relating to naval, military, air force, and armed forces of the Union, including central paramilitary forces or any work vital to national security or defence of India or state police, safety of the people…”
The Act says the provisions relating to land acquisition, compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement shall apply when the appropriate government acquires land for its own use, hold and control. For these purposes also the Government has to consult the concerned Panchayat, Municipality, or Municipal Corporation at the village or ward level.
The Government needs to inform local people in the local language for commencement of consultation and of the social impact studies in a provided manner. The Government shall ensure that adequate representation has been given to the representatives of Panchayat, Gram Sabha, Municipalities or Municipal Corporation at the stage of carrying out the Social Impact Assessment study. The appropriate Government shall ensure the completion of this study within six months and it shall be made available to the public.
Now in this Assessment it will be decided as to whether the proposed acquisition serves public purpose, estimation of affected and likely to be displaced families, extent of lands, public and private houses, settlements and other common properties likely to be affected by the proposed acquisition, whether the extent of land proposed for acquisition is to the absolute bare minimum extent needed for the project, whether land acquisition at an alternate place has been considered and found not feasible, study of social impact of the project, and the nature and costs of addressing them, and the impact of these costs on the overall costs of the project vis-à-vis the benefits of the project.
While undertaking a Social Impact Assessment study even for the strategic purpose of the nation beside the above, the Government shall, amongst other things, take into consideration the impact that the project is likely to have on various components such as livelihood, of affected families, public and community properties, assets and infrastructure – particularly roads, public transport, drainage, sanitation, sources of drinking water, sources of water for cattle, community ponds, grazing land plantation, public utilities such as post offices, fair price shops, food storage godowns, electricity supply, health care facilities, schools, educational or training facilities, anganwadies, children parks, places of worship, land for traditional tribal institutions and burial and cremation grounds.
The appropriate Government shall require the Authority conducting the Social Impact Assessment study to prepare a Social Impact Management Plan listing the improvement measures required to be undertaken for addressing the impact for a specific component referred above. For Social Impact Assessment, Government shall ensure that a public hearing is held to ascertain the views of the affected family. Thereafter it shall ensure that the Study Report and the Social Impact Management Plan is made public.
Subsequently, this Report is to be evaluated by an independent multi-disciplinary Expert Group consisting of two non-official social scientists, two representative of local bodies, two experts on rehabilitation, a technical expert in the subject relating to the project. A person from amongst the group may be nominated as its Chairman. If the Expert group constituted is of the opinion that the project does not serve the public purpose or that the social costs and adverse social impacts of the project outweigh the potential benefits, it shall make a recommendation within two months from the date of its constitution to the effect that the project shall be abandoned forthwith and no further steps to acquire the land will be initiated in respect of the same.
In the light of above, the powers of the appropriate Government to acquire land in urgency is provided by Section 40 (Land Acquisition Act 2013), which is restricted to the minimum area required for the defence of India or national security or for any emergency arising out of natural calamities or any other emergency with the approval of Parliament.
Such powers too shall be exercised by the Collector after publishing a notice stating that the Government intends to take possession of the land and that claims to compensations and rehabilitation and resettlement for all interests in such land may be made to him. Public notice is for not to be less than 30 days and not more then six months so as to enable all persons interested in the land to appear in person and to state the nature of their respective interests in the land and the amount and particulars of their claims to compensation for such interests, their claims to rehabilitation and resettlement along with their objections, if any. Before taking possession of any land acquired under urgency provisions the Collector shall render eighty percent of the compensation.
Appropriate Government shall under Section 19 of the Act (Land Acquisition Act 2013), publish a summary of the rehabilitation and resettlement scheme after declaration of an area as resettlement area for the purpose of rehabilitation and resettlement of affected families. Only after the acquiring body deposits an amount in full or part, as may be prescribed by the appropriate Government towards the cost of it and after the date of publication of the preliminary notification under Section 11(1).
If any person contravenes any of the provision relating to payment of compensation or rehabilitation and resettlement, every such person shall be liable to a punishment of six months which may extend to three years or with fine or with both.
Undoubtedly for the defence of India or national security or for any emergency arising out of natural calamities or in any other emergency, even with the approval of Parliament, doing an acquisition will be the toughest task.
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