Protest against new, neo-colonial land acquisition act

The Real Political Question is Land, and Political Class Must Address this
New Land Acquisition Act will Increase Land Conflicts, Destroy Land and Livelihood, Need for Urgent Amendments
Call for an United Land Rights Struggle for Decentralised Development Planning and Against Resource Grab

After years of struggles by the people's movements in the country, the colonial Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (LAA) has been repealed and a new law titled, “Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013”, has been enacted. The impetus to repeal the colonial LAA was derived from the nationwide opposition to the land acquisition and deaths of farmers and workers while opposing the land acquisitions.

However, the new Act is a betrayal to the people and struggles across the country who have been fighting against land acquisition and will not end the land conflicts nor provide relief to the millions who have been displaced or guarantee relief to those who will be the victims of future acquisitions.
Some of the failures of the Bill are
Expansive definition of public purpose and infrastructure allowing for arbitrary acquisition
Role of government in acquisition for private and PPP projects, which are for profit and not for public purpose.
No consent of the Gram Sabha in government developed public purpose projects required
Allows for acquisition of agricultural land, without addressing question of food security
Promote principle of cash compensation rather than livelihood based rehabilitation and resettlement.
Land for land provision is insufficient.
Retains urgency clause and allows acquisition without consultations and consent of gram Sabha or public hearings

As people's movements struggling for the repeal of the LAA, protecting land rights, and justice for the project affected families, we have been demanding the following :
AMEND the New Law
No agricultural land, whether single crop or multiple crops, should be forcibly acquired keeping in view the food security of the country.
In the name of Public Purpose, the State should not be forcibly acquiring any land for the private corporation or their PPP project.
Consent by majority of Gram Sabha members (or equivalent body in urban areas where these have been constituted) should be obtained in all matters pertaining to the Bill.
There is no need to exempt any of the Central Acts used for land acquisition from the purview of the Bill and to bring those at par with the Bill, Government should carry required amendments.
Any unutilsied land shall return to the land owners. 'Land Bank of un-fertile, waste-lands' for use by the industry or infrastructure projects should be prepared by the government not with the land remaining unutilised.

REPEAL Land Acquisition Act and ENACT a Comprehensive National Legislation on Development Planning inclusive of just and fair, livelihood-based rehabilitation of the minimally affected people and enunciating the principle of least displacement, just rehabilitation and a decentralized development planning
ENSURE that the urban poor who are unprotected workers receive their due right to land and shelter and enact a law to address the problems of evictions, securing land rights and address resettlement and rehabilitation issues of the urban poor.
IMPLEMENT: the PESA Act, 1996, scrupulously following the principle of free, prior and informed consent of the adivasi communities and the Forest Rights Act, 2006 in all forest areas of the country.
ISSUE a White Paper on all the land acquisition, displacement caused and rehabilitation completed since independence..
ENSURE that minimum and just rehabilitation for all project-affected people in all sectors should be declared as National Policy, leaving scope for finalization by the communities as their right to planning as per the Development Planning Act.
ESTABLISH a National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission to address the concerns of the nearly 10 crore people displaced people since independence

If the political parties are serious about addressing the conflicts over the land and other natural resources then they must listen to the voices of those struggling or else it will only aggravate these conflicts all across the country. The need of growth, infrastructure and urbanisation can’t be fulfilled on the graveyard of millions. A pro-people Development Planning Act with complete participation of the Gram Sabha will go a long way in stopping the massive corporate corruption and lead to decentralization of power having an overall impact on the politics of the country.


Thursday, November 28, 2013 - 10:00pm