Ever since the land acquisition drive took place in the vicinities of Noida Extension, the area has been witnessing a furore and protest from the farmers.  A large number of angry farmers came out to the forefront to show their protest against the politician-developer nexus, which has been acquiring their lands on very low market rates. The aftermaths of situation not only affected the farmers, but the developers and consumers on an equal level.

Despite the fact that real estate suffered badly from the Noida Extension episode, new rays of hope have crept in to fulfil the utopian dream. With the decision of DDA (Delhi Development Authority) to create land pooling a policy, the farmers can also become beneficiaries of the development process.

Old is not always Gold

The old land acquisition act does not provide enough impetus to the land owners and bears the flux of government policies. Since, we are on the brink, of a transforming economy i.e. from agrarian to industrial so the country needs more land for infrastructure as well as industrial build up. But so far the process which has been followed to acquire land from poor owners holds many flaws causing dissatisfaction among them.

There are many points that have been raised time and again by number of scholars questioning the credibility of the age old land acquisition concept. In the report ‘Exploring alternatives to land acquisition published by centre for policy research author Lena Chiaravalli says, ’’ The Land Acquisition Act encompasses the sovereign right of the government to take over parcels of land for public purpose. However, the concept of Public Purpose can be put in question as to whether the social gain that justifies government’s acquisition outweighs individual losses inflicted on the former owner.” Here the author suggests that the virtue of land acquisition   lies in making people partner in the development process and the compensation should be such so that the land owner would voluntarily agree to surrender his land. However, this is rarely achieved in practice.

In the last few years we have seen numerous incidents of government land acquisition that have gone horribly wrong and resulted in far reaching consequences. According to the Union Ministry of Rural Development researchers, the compensation in more than 80,000 cases of constrained land acquisition since 1947 are still pending, in Rajasthan only, and many instances of acquisition contestation remain in the Supreme Court .Similarly  ,more than thirty highway development projects ,worth over Rs 8,800 crore have been stalled for lack of land.

It won’t be hard to perceive that if the scenario would continue for any longer, than visualising well planned cities based on their respective Master Plans would be extremely difficult. The whole scenario forced the administrators to think and re-think that what went wrong and what should be done to rectify it.

Early caricature

The land pooling policy or land readjustment schemes have been on the tables of authorities, town planners and economists for long but thanks to the prevailing situations, it recently got a proper shape and came into implementation. For the land pooling area development scheme, many states are following the Gujarat model which has been the most successful over the years.

The last decade   has seen Town Planning Schemes based on land pooling technique being successfully used for plan implementation in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and some other states. This facilitated assembly and development of urban land without resorting to compulsory land acquisition under Land Acquisition Act. Through the mechanism of Town Planning Scheme, urban local bodies launched land pooling and redistribution process in urban areas ensuring self-serviced planned and orderly development of towns and cities.

 

Conventional land acquisition process Land readjustment scheme
Haphazard land development A consolidated development plan
Real land owners are not a part of the development process Land owners are made a part of the development process
Compensation given is often insufficient. Most of the time it results in dissatisfaction among landowners or farmers Partial monetary compensation; real compensation is the developed land which can be further developed or put on sale yielding higher returns
A longer time lag is involved as it requires several rounds of documentation to legally acquire the said land Comparatively less cumbersome and requires shorter time duration as no change in ownership happens in real.
Results higher costs as a lengthy procedure is involved Involves lesser costs.
Often results in violent unrests; may cause stalled projects and prolonged court cases. Being a part of the system practically no one gets hurt leading to a peaceful development process.