ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Land, Livelihoods and Company Sarkaar

The ordinance amending the new Land Acquisition Act validates Modi sarkaar as Company sarkaar.

If the government, which resorted to an ordinance on 31 December 2014 to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR, 2013), had even an iota of honesty it would have also removed the words “humane, participative, informed and transparent” that describe what the Act was supposed “to ensure” in the process of compulsory land acquisition. But that would have been too much to expect from Modi sarkaar, for the ordinance itself establishes that it is Company sarkaar. And, for those who revel in the play on acronyms, the former union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who shepherded the LARR, has coined this one for “Modi” – it is increasingly coming to stand for “Murder of Democratic India”.

In an “Information Note” on the ordinance to amend the LARR, the Company sarkaar claims that even as it brings in significant changes to remove “procedural difficulties in the acquisition of lands required for important national projects”, it has safeguarded the interests of “the farmers and affected families”. Of course, one change, which the government is taking credit for, was mandatory – it was written into the law itself. This is the one related to Section 105 of the unamended LARR – that “compensation in accordance with the First Schedule and rehabilitation and resettlement(R&R) specified in the Second and Third Schedules shall apply to cases of land acquisition under the enactments specified in the Fourth Schedule” with effect from 1 January 2015. The government is thus taking credit for something it had no option but to abide by, and thereby claiming that it has safeguarded the interests of “the farmers and affected families”.

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