Contentious points in the land ordinance

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New Delhi, Feb 23: The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance was brought in by the NDA government on Dec 30, 2014.

The ordinance amends the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

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The act outlined the process to be followed when land is acquired for a public purpose.

Here are some of the changes to the Act which have elicited objections from activists and opposition parties:

 Exemption of five categories of land use from certain provisions: The ordinance creates five special categories of land use - defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including public private partnership (PPP) projects where the central government owns the land.

The Act required that the consent of 80 percent of land owners is obtained for private projects and 70 percent for PPP projects.

The ordinance exempts the five categories mentioned above from this provision of the Act.

In addition, the ordinance permits the government to exempt projects in these five categories from following some provisions, through a notification.

 Return of unutilised land: The 2013 Act required that if land acquired under it remained unutilised for five years, it was returned to the original owners or the land bank.

The ordinance states that the period after which unutilised land will need to be returned will be five years, or any period specified at the time of setting up the project, whichever is later.

 Other changes: The 2013 Act excluded the acquisition of land for private hospitals and private educational institutions from its purview. The ordinance removes this restriction.

 While the 2013 Act was applicable for the acquisition of land for private companies, the ordinance changes this to acquisition for 'private entities'.

A private entity is an entity other than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non-profit organisation, or other entity under any other law.

 The 2013 Act stated that if an offence is committed by the government, the head of the department would be deemed guilty unless he could show that the offence was committed without his knowledge, or that he had exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.

The ordinance replaces this provision and states that if an offence is committed by a government official, he cannot be prosecuted without the prior sanction of the government.

IANS

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