Skip to main content

With Land Acquisition Act, 2013, pace of land grab has increased vastly: Top Chhattisgarh legal rights NGO

By Our Representative
In a surprise note, the Janhit Peoples' Legal Resource Centre in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, which seeks to provide legal aid to peoples' movements, village committees, NGOs, and trade unions, has qualified the 2013 Land Acquisition Act (LAA) as providing only "notional protection", insisting that for people the only benefit it provides is the "right to register objections..."
In the section "From a colonial Land Acquisition Act to even worse?", the note says, the British law actually distinguished between acquisition for public purpose and acquisition for companies, but LAA -- even as seeking compliance with a rehabilitation policy -- in practice presumes that "acquisition for a company is an acquisition for public purpose."
Based on ground level experiences, the note, it is claimed, has been prepared on the basis experiences on about how the legal framework is sought to be legitimized, instead of any academic study of the law.
The note says, while there has been "widespread displacement, shockingly inadequate rehabilitation and compensation" over the last one decade, whether it is the sponge-iron belt of Raipur, the cement belt between Raipur and Bilaspur, the coal mines of Koriya, bauxite mines of Sarguja, the power plants of Korba, or the "Jindal-land" Raigarh, "now the pace and extent of land grab has increased vastly."
According to the note, things have reached the point where not an inch of largely tribal Jashpur is left unaffected by prospecting and mining licenses; 34 power plants are coming up in the district Janjgir; and 7 cement plants are xoming up in the newly formed district of Baloda Bazar where units of multinationals Holcim and Lafarge and of the Birla group Ultratech, Grasim and Century are situated.
Pointing out that Section 17, which is the urgency clause, is invoked "whenever the state perceives a resistance to acquisition from people, has become common in Chhattisgarh", the note, prepared by well-known human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, says, even the mandatory consultation under Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) with Gram Sabha "is violated with impunity."
Quoting an analysis it had done before LAA was passed, the note says, although the Bill, when it was proposed, was brought on the anvil ostensibly because of the fierce countrywide resistance of the peasantry against land acquisition, far from addressing any of the serious legal issues, it actually ended up facilitating corporate land grab.
Pointing out that the LAA gives "an arbitrary license to acquire up to 5% of multi crop irrigated land without assessing projects in terms of their impact on food security", the note says, adding, it has "a hand-picked state level committee consisting almost entirely of bureaucrats makes all decisions."
"A social impact assessment (SIA) is to be done, but who will do it, and how, is unclear", the note says, adding, "In fact the SIA is a mirror image of the discredited environment impact assessment (EIA) process, which Jairam Ramesh himself described as a farce. The SIA can neither consider rehabilitation plan, nor whether the project is the least displacing alternative, nor the question of public purpose, yet the state level committee is supposed to decide all this."
It further says, "Various public hearings and gram sabha consultations are suggested, but these are a mere formality; the views raised in them are not given any importance subsequently", adding, "The definition of public purpose has been widened even further so that real estate is exempt from 80% consent by the phrase 'any site in the urban area'.”
"Projects that are in "public interest' (which is not defined) or that 'produce goods or services for the public' become public purpose", it states, adding, LAA, in fact, "contradicts itself by first declaring that no change of purpose will be permitted; and then reverting unutilised land to the government 'land bank'. What is this if not a change of purpose? This is an incentive to acquire large tracts of land on plausible grounds and hold them for later use."
Pointing out that after "grandly stating" that this law would create a new, just process of acquisition, the note says, LAA's clauses actually exempt a whole range of activities -- SEZs, coal mines, highways, uranium mines, railways etc. "This is at a time when SEZs and mines have been sites of bloody, violent conflict across the country”, the note insists.

Comments

TRENDING

August 22 to be observed as Apostasy Day: International coalition of ex-Muslim groups

By Our Representative
In a unique move, an international coalition of ex-Muslim organisations has decided to observe August 22, 2020 as the Apostasy Day. To be observed for “the abandonment or renunciation of religion”, the coalition, calling upon people to join the call, said, the decision to observe the Apostasy Day has been taken because of apostasy is “punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, UAE, and Yemen.”

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

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".

RSS' 25,000 Shishu Mandirs 'follow' factory school model of Christian missionaries

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
The executive committee of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES) recently decided to drop the KISS University in Odisha as the co-host of the World Anthropology Congress-2023. The decision is driven by the argument that KISS University is a factory school.

India must recognise: 4,085 km Himalayan borders are with Tibet, not China

By Tenzin Tsundue, Sandeep Pandey*
There has as been a cancerous wound around India’s Himalayan neck ever since India's humiliating defeat during the Chinese invasion of India in 1962. The recent Galwan Valley massacre has only added salt to the wound. It has come to this because, when China invaded the neighbouring country Tibet in 1950, India was in high romance with the newly-established communist regime under Mao Zedong after a bloody revolution.

Time to give Covid burial, not suspend, World Bank's 'flawed' Doing Business ranking

By Maju Varghese*
On August 27, the World Bank came out with a statement suspending the Doing Business Report. The statement said that a number of irregularities have been reported regarding changes to the data in the Doing Business 2018 and Doing Business 2020 reports, published in October 2017 and 2019. The changes in the data were inconsistent with the Doing Business methodology.

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.

Delhi riots: Cops summoning, grilling, intimidating young to give 'false' evidence

Counterview Desk
More than 440 concerned citizens have supported the statement issued by well-known bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander ‘We will not be silenced’ which said that the communal riots in Delhi in February 2020 have not been caused by any conspiracy, as alleged by the Delhi Police, but by “hate speech and provocative statements made by a number of political leaders of the ruling party.”

WHO chief ignores India, cites Pak as one of 7 top examples in fight against Covid-19

By Our Representative
In a move that would cause consternation in India’s top policy makers in the Modi government, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, has singled out Pakistan among seven countries that have set “examples” in investing in a healthier and safer future in order to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tata Mundra: NGOs worry as US court rules World Bank can't be sued for 'damages'

By Kate Fried, Mir Jalal*
On August 24 evening, a federal court ruled that the World Bank Group cannot be sued for any damage caused by its lending, despite last year’s Supreme Court ruling in the same case that these institutions can be sued for their “commercial activity” in the United States.