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

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

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.

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

80% school children are beaten up, 91% parents "approve" of it: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent report, prepared by researchers with the civil rights group, Agrasar, has revealed that of the 521 children from marginalized groups surveyed in Gurugram, Haryana, 80% said they are punished at school. Based on data collected from semi-urban communities in Gurugram, the report’s conclusions also take into account survey 100 parents, personal interviews with 26 children, three focus group discussions and one seasonal calendar exercise with 29 parents.