Column: Get the ground rules right

Oct 23 2013, 03:06 IST
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SummaryThe new law must factor in the requirements of the manufacturing sector in order to revive economy, boost jobs

Recently the government released the draft rules for the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, for comments from the stakeholders. The Act that was notified on September 27, 2013, has left the industry gasping as some of its fundamental concerns have not been addressed in the legislation. The industry is now banking on the rules to address these concerns and also some procedural issues.

Realising the importance of the issue, the minister for rural development immediately agreed to FICCI’s suggestions in the interactive session with the stakeholders in September 2013, to institutionalise a Rules Advisory Committee for the Act in the ministry which would advise the government on rules on a regular basis. This is important since rules and procedures to be laid down under the Act must meet the needs of our industry and the society at large that would arise in the years to come and not just that in the present.

Coming to details now, if one reads the Act carefully, a lot has already been specified within the Act itself, like public purpose has been defined; the compensation formula and R&R clauses have been thrashed out in great detail; timelines in case of certain processes have been specified and so on, thereby leaving less scope for any interpretation in such cases. While the rules cannot change the fundamental structure of the legislation, but they can help us in having more clarity and predictability in the application of the Act.

Industry is worried about the long-drawn process for land acquisition as laid down in the Act. We believe that the process of land acquisition would take a minimum four to five years if there are no extensions in the timelines prescribed. The rules should now try to minimise this time period for acquisition within the existing framework provided by the Act.

First, there are stages for which the Act is also silent and, therefore, the timeframe needs to be specified within the rules to provide predictability to the whole process.

For instance, there is no timeline for the very first stage, that is submission of the land acquisition proposal by the industry and the notification of SIA (social impact assessment).

Similarly, there are many sub-stages involved in the whole process without being ascribed any time limit, though for the broader process timelines are mentioned.

Second, the minister in his speech at FICCI had mentioned that in

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