Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Changing Land Acquisition

If the BJP government changes the  "Consent" and "Social Impact Assessment" of the Land Acquisition Act in a bid to accelerate development, I suggest it also add two new provisions that will go far to still opposition and serve the ends of justice.

1. It should  put a 99-year limit on the validity of all deals. That will allow those taking the land to make use of it, without depriving owners perpetually. No one can argue that such a provision will seriously hamper development; and it could reduce social impact/deprivation significantly.

2. Mandate that any corporation taking private land should allot a set percentage of shares and stock options over and above the cash compensation. This will provide those who have lost land with a stake in development, and, in combination with provision (1), give them a sense of ownership in what happens. That will itself be a valuable component of development. If the land is taken for public purposes, landowners should be compensated, over and above the purchase price of land, by regular payments from the treasury. Payments should be indexed to rising real estate values that result from public use of the land, and could be from a dedicated fund supported by higher tax revenues.

These two provisions could go a long way to ensure that land acquisition is not a block on necessary development.

It will also bring into perspective the fact that over the next century the Indian population will peak and begin to decline. All development work would benefit from keeping that perspective in view.

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