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Bill allows displaced to buy up to 40% of developed land

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The which is likely to be tabled in tomorrow may offer additional incentives to ease acquisition of land for urbanisation projects. The Bill, which already provides for offering 20% of development land to project affected families, will double this share in the version that is to be presented in Parliament.

The Bill has an existing provision that where land is acquired for urbanisation purposes, 20% of the developed land will be reserved and offered to land owning project affected families, in proportion to the area of their land acquired and at a price equal to cost of acquisition and the cost of development.

In case the project affected family wishes to avail of this offer, an equivalent amount will be deducted from the land acquisition compensation, the Bill in its original version says.

However, farmer leaders say that past experience with similar offers does not make this sound like a great proposition unless compensation covered the period taken to develop the land.

In Haryana, when farmers were given a flat in the apartments that came up, they had to lose the entire compensation they had received, says a farmer leader in Haryana. The farmers had got compensation for agricultural land while they had to buy it back after its land use had been changed, says Rajesh Bhatti a farmer leader of Kisan Sangarsh Samiti. It is tragic enough that a farmer has to first lose his land and then shell out his compensation to buy a piece of that very land, he says.

If he is clever he may make that land yield money. But how many farmers can turn into property dealers overnight? he asks.

That is why we have always maintained that we wanted not money but shares in the property itself, so that we earn something from it, he says.

Rajesh Tikait of Bharatiya Kisan Union adds that the offer of developed land could be useful only if the law also provides for enough compensation for at least three years till the land is developed.

Madhuresh Kumar of the National Alliance of People's Movement says that if 40% of developed property is reserved for farmers, then it does not mean that the farmers, who have lost their livelihoods, can now earn something from this property. It only means that they would have to spend their entire compensation amount to buy a small piece of the very land that had once belonged to him in its entirety.

The clause asking for consent of 80% of land owners as a pre condition for land acquisition also does not impress many. In a case of slum demolition in Mumbai against Shivalik builders, the court had ruled against the builders after it was found that 70% consent claimed by them was mostly forged and not true, says Kumar. But the ruling was never enforced, he says.

So experience tells us that the consent clause may never get implemented in the true spirit, he says.

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