[Answered] Discuss the issue of land acquisition as a major impediment in the development process. What steps should be taken to make land acquisition quick and easy?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Land acquisition issue as a major Impediment in the development process. Steps to make it quick and easy.
Conclusion. Way forward.

Land acquisition is required for most of the nation building projects, however, it is not a simple process and is often the sole impediment in the development. Many development projects get delayed due to land acquisition issues. Further these delays add up to costs of many projects, making it a less efficient and more costly project for development. Therefore land acquisition must be smooth and easy in order to make development less costly and sustainable.

Land acquisition issue as a major Impediment in the development process:

  1. Delays important infrastructure projects and increases their costs making them unsustainable.
  2. Increasing NPAs in infrastructure sector can be attributed to some extent to the delays in land acquisition.
  3. Under the 2013 Act, land acquisition is estimated to take minimally four to five years. In addition, there remains uncertainty with respect to eventual successful completion of acquisition. There is need for a less time-consuming alternative to the current regime for private or PPP projects in areas such as rural roads, affordable housing, infrastructure and building cities remains.
  4. Inadequate compensation to the owners, mostly poor farmers exclude them from agriculture as well as prevent them from a decent living standard.
  5. Using agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, on one hand creates infrastructure whereas on the other hand serves as an impediment in the food security.
  6. Poor land acquisition policies in one region can transfer the development to other regions with favourable policies.

Steps to make it quick and easy:

  1. The land to be acquired from the land owners should be acquired either on a long lease or in the form of equity for the proposed business. This option will ensure a steady income for the affected families.
  2. Under the Indian Constitution, land acquisition belongs to the Concurrent List. Article 254(2) of the Constitution allows a state to amend a central act on the Concurrent List provided the central government approves of the amendment. Under the present government, states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have amended several labour laws that fall under the Concurrent List. The same instrumentality can be applied to land acquisition subject to the central government giving its approval.
  3. The role of governments should be restricted to ensuring that adequate provisions are made for the protection of interests of the landless tillers of the land to be acquired.
  4. In case of outright sale, open bidding through minimum prices acceptable to all landholders.
  5. An additional instrument that governments may use to make acquisition more acceptable to landowners is land pooling. The idea here is to purchase or acquire more land than is required for the project and eventually transfer each landowner a fraction of her land back from the excess land after the project is complete.
  6. Alternatively, government may take land on long-term lease rather than purchase or acquire it. Again, landowners may find this option attractive because it allows them to keep ownership of land, earn an assured return and retain the option to renegotiate the terms once the initial terms of the lease expires.

Unfortunately, land acquisition is still an issue and is impediment to development projects. By reducing major land acquisition roadblocks like compensation issue, judicial delays etc. development in India can be accelerated. A major political push is required for this.

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