Watch: Modi’s Land Bill DeQoded - A Roadblock Called ‘Consent’

Modi’s Land Bill Deqoded: The Consent Clause is one of the hurdles to the Land Bill. The debate is evenly poised. 

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The Posco Satyagaraha: Men, women and children lie down against the government’s move to take their land away for the $12 billion steel plant 

(Photo: Reuters)

Two issues threaten to derail the government’s Land Bill.

One of the two issues is the Consent Clause. Watch why it is a bitter pill to swallow.

What Is The Consent Clause?

UPA’s 2013 Bill gave more power to the land owners. 80% had to say YES when land was being acquired for private projects. 70% had to say YES when land was being acquired for public-private-partnership projects. No consent was required for government projects.

The Modi government is being accused of taking the ‘Right to say No’ away from land owners. The NDA law says there is no need to take consent from farmers if you are acquiring land for any of the following 5 purposes:

1. Defense
2. Rural Infrastructure
3. Affordable Housing
4. Industrial Corridors
5. Public Private Partnership Projects

Doesn’t Seem Grossly Unfair...

Except the categories remain vaguely defined. And the consent clause does not take into consideration the logistics of  linear acquisition. A linear acquisition is when you need land for projects that cut across tracts of land. Roads, Expressways, Railways, Electricity lines - all require land to be acquired in a linear fashion.

Linear Land Acquisition
Linear Land Acquisition

The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor is an example of a project for which linear acquisition will be required. But imagine, getting permission from 80% of the people who own land along the 1483 kms of this proposed corridor. Those putting the deal together will be dealing with 6 state governments and a tough-to-estimate number of local corporations and gram sabhas. You are staring at bureaucratic apocalypse!

Non-Linear Land Acquisition
Non-Linear Land Acquisition

But, Wait...There is a Flip Side

The debate is not so unidimensional when land needs to be acquired in one big chunk. For example, the government needs to acquire land to set up an armaments factory. A ‘YES’ from 70% to 80% of such land owners would only be fair, especially because the government will be dealing with a community that faces the same social and economic impact of giving up their land.

Should the government make a distinction not just between the purpose (defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridor & PPP) but also between the type of acquisition?

The Modi government is reportedly considering partial restitution of the Consent Clause in the new Bill. A seeminly short-sighted move to suit political optics.

Related Stories:

1. Demystifying the Land Ordinance: Consent
2. Demystifying the Land Ordinance: Social Impact
3. Land Acquisition: The Indian Farmer Wins, But Not The Rural Landless

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