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

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”