Skip to main content

Return unutilized land acquired for "public purpose" to tribals: High Level panel to Government of India

Prof Virginius Xaxa
By Our Representative
The Government of India (GoI), in a Cabinet decision, may have moved to come up with an ordinance to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013, in order to clear “hurdles” on way to land acquisition for industrial and infrastructural projects. However, a still unreleased report by the High Level Committee, set up under the chairmanship of Prof Virginius Xaxa, submitted to it in May 2014 had required the GoI to further strengthen the Act by giving the right to tribal communities to say ‘no’ to acquisition of their land and to access and manage forests.
The committee's report runs into 400 pages, and deals with all aspects of socio-economic status of the tribals in India, providing inter-state comparison about their land ownership, health and education facilities, and displacement due to projects since Independence. Prof Xaxa is presently with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati campus and has been working with the government, including as a member of the National Advisory Council.  
While calling the LARR Act “progressive”, as it allowed, for the first time, to legally mandate rehabilitation of projected affected persons (PAPs), the Xaxa committee report especially underlines, the Act “fails to address the need for minimizing of acquisition of land and resources”, as it not only “seeks to address concerns of those whose livelihoods are affected”, but “simultaneously aims at facilitating land acquisition for industrialization and urbanization” in keeping with “the broader liberalization policies.”
The Xaxa committee, which submitted its report to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, said, “There is no mention (in the Act) of the need to protect tribal land and community resources”, insisting, “Hence, a suitable provision is required to be incorporated in the Act, to safeguard tribal land and community resources in Scheduled Areas and disallow acquisition by a non-tribal, including private companies.”
The committee also opposes the definition of ‘public purpose’ in the Act, calling it “very wide”, saying that it will “only lead to greater acquisition and displacement in Scheduled Areas”, even as wanting the GoI to ensure that the “exercise of ‘eminent domain’ and definition of ‘public purpose’ should be severely limited.”
In fact, the committee wants “Government agencies acquiring land with the ultimate purpose to transfer it to private companies for stated public purpose, should be kept outside the ambit of the new law, as the public-private partnership (PPP) mode of acquiring land is simply a backdoor method of alienating land in violation of the Constitutional provision to prohibit or restrict transfer of tribal land to non-tribals in Scheduled Areas.”
The committee says that other states should replicate the “stringent provisions of the amended Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Areas Land Transfer Regulation, 1959”, particularly the provision that “facilitates the formation of Registered Scheduled Tribe Co-operative Societies, which could take up mining activities in Scheduled Areas.” It underlines, “Gram Sabha consent should be mandatory for acquisition of land by the Government for its own use as well.”
The committee further says that there is “plenty of unutilized tribal land available with Central/State/PSUs”, and the Central/State Governments are not using these “for the purpose for which it was acquired”. It recommends, “Governments should be legally mandated to return such land to the original landowner/successors or use the same for resettlement of displaced tribals. This should not be left to the discretion of the State Government.”
Seeking rejection the Vijay Kelkar Committee on Fiscal Consolidation (2012), which wanted that “unutilized and under-utilized land resources” be used for “raising resources” to “finance infrastructure needs particularly in urban areas”, the committee says, this should be “roundly rejected, and unused land should be returned to the loser of the land and to the community.”
In fact, the committee states, “There has been inadequate recognition at the policy level that land represents an inalienable resource, passed on from generation to generation in tribal communities, who otherwise have no education and skill development. Studies have documented that those displaced persons (DPs) who got jobs in lieu of land and whose children did not receive education or training were worse off after the job-holder retired from service.”
In this context, it recommends that “the objective of resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) should be to ensure that the socio-economic status of tribal DPs/PAPs after displacement should improve positively rather than deteriorate further”, and for this, “loss of land and common property resources (CPR) can be compensated only by proper R&R which envisages restoration of livelihoods, health and education facilities and skill development for the whole family and community of tribal Dps/PAPs.”
It wants that “there should be provision of ‘land for land’, in acquisition of tribal lands”, as against “cash for land”, as it has happened with Madhya Pradesh oustees of the Narmada project. It says, “Compensatory land provided must be made cultivable with irrigation and agricultural inputs. Rehabilitation should be treated as a continuous process to be monitored by the Project Authority and State until the alternative livelihood becomes economically viable.”

Comments

TRENDING

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Top ex-Gujarat babu tells Modi: Not yoga but solar system is our biggest source of energy

By Rajiv Shah  An email alert to Counterview from a top ex-IAS bureaucrat, termed as Gujarat’s turnaround man for revamping loss-making state public sector undertakings (PSUs), has sought to take a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark on the Yoga day – that the ancient Indian exercise provides an “infinite solutions” within ourselves, offering “the biggest source of energy in the universe.”

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.

Covid fear? Cremation rituals gone upside down, Dalits asked to do Brahminical rituals

By Abhay Jain, Sandeep Pandey*  As Covid consumes human life in a very conspicuous way we are confronted with additional problem of disposing of human corpses. Cremation grounds are lit with continuous pyres, graveyards are running out of land and now Ganga has become a mass grave potentially polluting its water.