Land Acquisition Bill: Politicos want Guv to intervene

Land Acquisition Bill: Politicos want Guv to intervene

Governor Vajubhai R Vala. DH file photo

A group of former Karnataka ministers and legislators plans to petition Governor Vajubhai R Vala urging him not to give assent to a Bill that exempts the government from conducting social impact assessment for projects where citizens’ land is acquired.

At least 10 ex-legislators have opposed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed amid din, without any debate, on February 13, during the Budget session of the Legislature.

The group has also expressed concern that the amendments to the original 2013 Act - the Congress-led UPA had hailed it as a landmark - will deprive landowners, especially farmers, from receiving compensation up to four times the market value in rural areas for the land they part with. For instance, one of the amendments seeks to do away with compensation if land for projects are acquired under state legislations such as the KIADB Act.

Karnataka has been complaining about problems in land acquisition and the resultant escalation in project costs, especially for the Upper Krishna Project (UKP), Yettinahole, Peripheral Ring Road (PRR), and other major projects.

The government, through the Bill, has now given itself the power to exempt certain projects from the requirement of social impact assessment - infrastructure projects including educational institutions, hospitals, electrification of public offices, irrigation projects, drinking water projects, affordable housing, industrial corridors, PPP infrastructure projects and so on.

Former ministers R M Patil, Shivakant Chature, K A Nissar Ahmed, along with ex-MLAs Chandrashekhar S Nayak,
BV Ramachandra Reddy, Shakuntala T Chougle, Hasansab Dotihal and others have sought an appointment with the Governor to discuss the Bill. “All we want is the Bill to go back to the Assembly so that legislators can discuss and debate,” Reddy said.

Similar amendments have been made to the 2013 Act by Gujarat, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh to expedite the process of land acquisition and avoid cost escalation.