Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A bill that facilitates land displacement

·         The objective of the new bill is to make the process of land acquisition easy, transparent, and fair for both sides
·         Land alienation is a matter of concern for the MNCs and quite rightly external agencies like world bank have been dictating terms to government on land policy
·         World bank in a report in 2007 suggested following
1.       make leasing legal where it is currently prohibited…
2.      drop restrictions on sale of land to non-agriculturists
3.      review legislation on compulsory land acquisition
4.       allow farmers or their representatives to negotiate with and if desired transfer land directly to investors rather than having to go through government and often receive only very limited compensation
·         This Bill facilitates acquiring land, including commons, presently in the hands of small and marginal farmers from tribal, SC and backward communities under the pretext of an unstated ‘public purpose' for “infrastructure development”
·         In urban areas it is very clear that it is connected to real estate development in return for crumbs such as ‘housing for the urban poor' schemes.
·         for the SIA (Social Impact Assessment), there is mention of “Two non-official social scientists, two experts in the area relating to the project.” Women, senior citizens and children are not part of this exercise. The affected people are not to select this group.
1.      Most ‘experts' come from sections not directly displaced/dispossessed.
·         The bill stresses on minimum disturbance to infrastructure, ecology and minimum adverse impact on individuals during acqusition
1.      this is highly subjective and left open-ended without defining the “minimum” displacement (in forests, for instance; or damage to rivers, for instance — how much is ‘minimum”?)
·         also the onus will be on people to enter into litigation to reclaim their land from the government
·         the bill has a provision of “One acre of land to each family in the command area if land is acquired for irrigation project”
·         this seems foolhardy if it plans to cover entire populations displaced by irrigation projects . Where is this kind of land available in the proposed command area?
·         Tribal communities
1.      Preference in relocation and resettlement in area in same compact block
2.      But many questions remain unanswered
                                                                          i.      How does the Bill compute the ‘economic worth' of tribal, Dalit or BC communities, women's work, to be dispossessed of a permanent asset — land/river?

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