Legislating on Land Acquisition in India: A Possible Consensual Model?
10 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2013 Last revised: 28 Dec 2013
Date Written: September 29, 2013
The term ‘Eminent Domain’, refers to the power the State has to take away an individual’s land for public benefit which has been a highly controversial topic of debate since it’s very conception. Following through Sustainable development, the concept wherein, securing the rights of the present generation while safeguarding the interest of the future generations is the focus of present human development, puts today’s society in a seesaw position. On a comparative analysis the two concepts raise questions as to, in a society already suffering from inequality and huge income disparities, whether crushing the rights of individuals today for benefit of the next generation is just and fair? And if not what are the steps or incentives that the State laws shall incorporate to balance the need of today and tomorrow?
With the increase in capitalisation and expansion of modern day infrastructure, such contrasting concepts are applied by the State under the garb of public betterment. Land serves multitudinous purposes as an asset for future; an investment to dwell on; a place you can call home or a farmer’s livelihood and most importantly a weapon which can be utilised towards the development and progress of any nation. At the very outset there is a need for the State to acquire land, specifically to protect the interest of the people displaced; to that effect the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India in 2011 introduced the, ‘Draft National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation & Resettlement Bill, 2011.’ Aiming towards development, better livelihood and safeguarding the ecosystem; the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill provides transparency in the process of land acquisition and brings about a consensual approach towards Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement.
On one hand land being the major source for development of a nation attracts the economic perspective and infrastructural development, whereas on the other hand in a country like India where nearly 70% of the country’s population lives in rural areas; land is the basic necessity for the survival of any individual; providing him food for sustenance, shelter to live and clothing to cover; being his only source of income and traditional form of employment; brings forth the sociological perspective of this new Bill in focus. The present paper emphasizes on how the Bill caters to the competing need for land and natural resources while touching upon the necessity of maintaining the ecological balance arising out of such land acquisitions and development processes; and highlighting the wide lacunae left in the proposed consensual model. Therefore, the paper balances out the need for equitable and just sustainable development. Furthermore, an attempt is made to establish as to what constitutes ‘Public Purpose’ while vindicating the relation between progress and justifiability. For the sake of brevity, the aim of the paper is to determine how well can the Bill facilitates and adapts to anticipated practical applicability in the Indian setup.
Keywords: Ecological Balance, Eminent Domain, National Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, Sustainable Development
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