Renu Pokharna

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

Leave It To The Market

In Property Rights on May 30, 2011 at 8:38 am

Land acquisitions in India are invariably marked by violent protests. Is politics responsible for stirring up passions? Is it loss of a means of livelihood that landowners resent? Or is there a fundamental problem with the way acquisition is done that stirs up a hornet’s nest?

Look at the last issue first. There are two fundamental problems with the present system of land acquisition: the process of acquisition, and the compensation issue. In India, mostly land is fragmented into small parcels (excepting forested areas). Acquisition of a few hundred acres, necessary for an industrial or infrastructure project, requires dealing with several landowners. Also, not everyone wishes to sell. This makes the process cumbersome and increases the transaction cost of acquiring land.

However, the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, gives sweeping legal powers to the government or its authorised agencies to acquire almost any private land or property provided such acquisition is for “public purpose”. Invariably this route is adopted. This is also known as ’eminent domain’, regarded as an inherent right of the state to take private property for public use. It is legal in many countries, including the US, UK and France.

The problem lies in interpretation of the term “public purpose”. Unfortunately the Act does not define the term. So interpretation was left to the courts. The Supreme Court in 1971 took a very wide view of the term in the case Jage Ram vs the State of Haryana. Yet it did not provide any definition and left it to the state governments to define and thus (mis)interpret the term. Strangely the judgment was delivered when ‘right to private property’ was still a fundamental right. Subsequent apex court judgments further widened the scope of interpretation. The economics behind eminent domain and thus the interpretation of the term public purpose assume that the state would always act in the public interest and, therefore, any taking of private property would be to provide certain “public goods” that otherwise would not be provided by the markets. Lighthouses or clean air are typical examples. One or several ships can use the light at the same moment. Yet no single ship owner would build the lighthouse. The government needs to build it – in other words, provide public goods as the market will not provide them automatically.

This clearly implies the Act’s provisions should only be used when the government itself is to provide infrastructure facilities (public good). They should not be used for land acquisition for private investments, whatever the benefits. For such transactions, the market must play out. The government should not undermine market processes.

Yet the very opposite has been the bane of land acquisition in India. Private parties tend to pass off the high transaction costs of negotiating with individual landholders onto state governments. The latter have been more than willing to oblige, taking advantage of the sweeping powers to acquire land and justify investments in it.

When markets are not allowed to play out, and sweeping powers are used by the state, compensation is invariably low and not just. The question of compensation needs to be based on value of the land sought to be acquired. This can be done on the basis of prices prevailing in the past or the expected future value of land. Typically investment in industrial activities or building of infrastructure leads to creation of positive externalities that ends up as increased land value, benefiting primarily landowners, who are passive recipients of this windfall.

When farmers whose land gets acquired are compensated based on past prices, they do forgo potential benefits from urbanisation. This is a loss of opportunity cost in terms of forgone benefits, which in reality far exceeds the compensation received, in the long run. There are also substantial income redistribution effects between farmers whose land is acquired compulsorily and farmers who still possess their land. The latter can sell in the market at an appropriate time when urbanisation reaches them. This indirect redistribution invariably causes tension between governments and farmers. When acquisition is not purely for public cause, tensions mount further.

Asset pricing should always be based on the future. The present system that defines compensation based on past transactions is not just or justified.

We need a new Land Acquisition Act to replace the outdated Act of 1894. The new Act should define public purpose, restrict such acquisition only for public goods, and address the issue that land markets in India are not free. Farmers are not allowed to sell their land for non-agricultural purposes. This has prevented industrial development in rural areas as well as direct negotiation by private enterprises vis-a-vis acquisition of land for, say, an SEZ.

We also need to understand that landowners lose out on a means of livelihood. So states need to frame proper resettlement and rehabilitation policies taking care of resettlement and providing alternative livelihood means.

There are emotional pangs in parting with land. But it is also true that farmers can never improve their economic positions substantially by cultivation and by selling, say, potatoes. At least they have not been able to in the past. What they need is ample compensation and financial inclusion that will guarantee substantial and safe returns on their received compensation, enabling them to dream of sending their children to good educational institutions and not to plough land to produce potatoes.

Or is my argument not selfish enough? After all, the more potatoes they produce, supply increases and prices of potatoes remain low.

The Times of India, 25 May 2011

Give cash some credit

In Malnutrition, PDS, Red Tape on May 29, 2011 at 7:25 am

It would be sad if the potential of cash transfers was lost as a result of hasty posturing by those on various sides of the debate. The fact is that, in India today, poverty and economic insecurity remain endemic in spite of fantastic economic growth. The existing system has failed to arrest the growing number in poverty, despite substantial government spending ostensibly designed to reduce poverty.

Could cash transfers help? A first need is to ensure sensible discussion, and to avoid presenting proponents as straw men. Nobody favouring them should imagine they would be a panacea or that they should replace everything now in place.

There are several types of cash transfer. In the public debate, there has been a tendency to generalise from a criticism of one type, as if that negated all types. There are three dimensions to take into account. First, should cash transfers be targeted on the poor or be universal? The idea is to ensure that everybody has some money so as to move out of poverty. But that could be done by targeting transfers only on the designated poor or by providing everybody with a transfer and taxing back from the non-poor. Internationally, economists are realising that the second option is not just feasible but more efficient and equitable.

A second issue is selectivity. The argument is that some groups “deserve” transfers more than others. Usually singled out are poor mothers and the elderly. The selection is not as easy as many assume. But the evidence is strong that unconditional cash transfers to the elderly benefits children as well as the elderly, and transfers to mothers benefits children as well as the women.

A third issue is conditionality. In his Indian Express article Jean Dreze focused on conditional cash transfers or CCTs (‘The cash mantra’, IE, May 11). Having observed the development of transfers in Brazil, I do not recognise his characterisation of what happened. He says that in Latin America “a large majority” is covered by social insurance. This is not so. Then he says CCTs were used only for “a fringe of marginalised households”. Well, it is a very large fringe. Today, over 50 million Brazilians receive monthly transfers under the bolsa familia scheme, well over a quarter of the population and rising. And there is a law committing government to an unconditional cash transfer for all. The minister responsible for the policy has told me that he has always wanted to phase out conditionality. Quite right too. Conditionality is paternalistic and sets up arbitrary criteria for inclusion and exclusion. It would be folly if India were to go down that road.

Now reflect on the potential of unconditional cash transfers. It is not good enough to say they might be useful “sometime in the future”. If they are desirable, work on them should start now.

Cash transfers are not a panacea. But we have found in Africa, for instance, that in the absence of adequate infrastructure they can have a wide range of beneficial effects, whereas bureaucratic systems of subsidised food and other commodities are replete with corruption, inefficiency and inequity. These are precisely the failings in the Indian system. In a recent study in Gujarat, we found that the existing system is both chronically inefficient and inequitable, reaching the non-poor almost as much as the poor, and not reaching many of the latter at all.

It is easy to say the poor prefer food to money, and to suggest asking them, “Would you prefer food or cash?” That is Jean Dreze’s proposal. The problem is that not only do many people not receive food but that the value of the food received is only a fraction of the expenditure on the PDS. A fair question would have to be in terms of food actually provided and the equivalent in cash to what is spent on the system. So, you might have the food you receive now, which on average might be worth Rs 200 or you could have Rs 600 in cash. I doubt the critics of cash would like to see that question being posed. My guess is that the poor are as shrewd as anybody else and would opt for the cash.

Policymaking is an art. People tend to give a higher value to something they fear losing than to something that might take its place even if the latter has greater monetary value. But if the rationale for cash transfers is sound, experience should lead to a conversion of attitudes. When the bolsa escola was mooted in Brazil in the 1990s, academics scoffed. It started experimentally. I recall a city mayor saying she was attacked initially. But once operationalised, criticism faded.

It was similar with President Lula. He had to be persuaded to support cash transfers in 2001. In 2010, he told us in a private meeting that they would never go now they were established, and that increased economic growth, reduction of inequality and his own re-election had been primarily because of them.

Let me conclude by appealing to Jean Dreze, a man with fine values and deep concern for the poor. Let this be a period of policy experimentation, where pilot schemes are tried without any of us posturing or using phrases such as “remarkably dangerous”.

Several years ago, we designed a pilot in villages in Africa, providing every villager with an unconditional monthly transfer worth about 40 per cent of subsistence. Within months, child nutrition improved, school attendance and performance improved, economic output rose, women’s economic status improved, income inequality declined (taking account of the transfer), and treatment of serious illnesses increased (because patients could take medicine, having more food). Poor people had worked out what to do themselves. They did not need some bureaucrat treating them like children by giving them food benevolently. They started buying it or growing it themselves.

What works in one place may not work elsewhere. But people are rational everywhere. The poor are just as rational as anybody else. It is prejudice to imagine they would dissipate cash on alcohol or become indolent. A few might. But we should surely suppose that the vast majority would purchase better food for their families, or buy and look after medicines and clothes. They may grow more food, rather than depend on ration stores that have no goods or have such poor quality items that nobody would purchase them if they had a choice. Policymakers should not be patronising. Cash transfers are not a substitute for public services. But they could be a base of economic security.

 

Indian Express, 28 May 2011

 

With the grain

In Agriculture on May 28, 2011 at 3:44 am

India has large wheat stocks already yet policy dictates they increase. In states like Punjab, Haryana, UP and Gujarat prices have fallen and are below the minimum support prices. This is a policy-induced outcome. A safe game in grains is fine, given the global politics of grain trade and the great ability of Indian politics to subsidise the wrong man in the vote bank — but how safe is safe?

The danger is elsewhere. With falling non-foodgrain relative prices and acceptance of general inflation, their production will not grow. The demand for oil, sugar, fruits and vegetables doesn’t wait for government orders. In spite of all the talk, official policies are against diversification. They don’t give price support, technology or market infrastructure. There are powerful vested interests against export and freer trade —and there are possibilities for corruption in assigning export quotas.

In Gujarat, it began to be argued about a year ago that Sardar Sarovar canals were not delivering any water, and khet talavdis — which we all love, including me — were responsible for the state’s agricultural growth. If you don’t like government canals, I have to remind you that you’re ignoring the social cost of energy in pumping out water.

I found the argument a little puzzling. For one thing I travel a lot in Gujarat, talking to farmers. I am the first one to admit that we need to be faster in building SSP canals and distributaries. But I have seen Narmada waters in farmers’ fields.

But the macro story, if you look at it with a trained eye, strikes a wrong note in the received talk. The story was that markets appeared in Gujarat agriculture, there were farm ponds and so diversification and yields went up and, presto, agriculture was growing at 6 per cent. To begin with, irrigated yields did not go up. The state government does not publish irrigated yield statistics cropwise any more but for wheat we know that irrigated yield was 27.1 quintals/hectare in 1999/ 2000, a year of average weather; and it was 28.35 quintals/hectare in the period of 2006/07 to 2008/09. I don’t have the 2009/10 figures which would make it worse. Informally, we know the same story is true in other crops if you take good and bad years into account. Actually there was a setback to diversification and Gujarat went back to paddy in a big way. In the last few years wheat and paddy area went up in Gujarat. Now this makes you ponder. The SSP planners did not want more paddy and wheat but traditional canals get you into paddy. Are markets not important? Oh yes, they are and have always been so in Gujarat. Read Dantwala’s classic on cotton marketing in Saurashtra. Before the upsurge of paddy in the 1980s and 1990s, grain areas were going down.

So yield is not going up in irrigated areas, neither is diversification. Gujarat’s agriculture remains market savvy. But the source of its growth is coming from irrigation. With more in irrigation, total yield goes up. Is it all farm ponds? Sorry, there is a lot of irrigation. Of course, we want more, thrice as much, and we want it controlled so that more persons benefit and our land is not spoiled and our crops are diversified. But Planning for Prosperity said in1985 that Gujarat’s agriculture will grow by 6 per cent after it delivers and that’s the way it is. Only some of our experts got it wrong and no one prepared for the markets and now the chicken are coming home to roost and the same experts want MSPs. But when production potential goes up, we don’t plan and end up in huge contradictions all around, including in Gujarat.

That last state, much to the embarrassment of international think tanks which say it is specialising in commercial crops, is growing more rice and wheat and the share of area with grain crops is up again. Flush with Narmada waters, some directly and some through tanks since the lower level canal system is yet to come up in a big way, the area under rice has gone up to 0.76 million hectares and the price of paddy in the mandis is nearly the lowest in India. Ditto for wheat and of course Bt cotton, where the technology is still a forward force. Some day, we will stand by the farmers. It is good to hear Delhi and Gandhinagar support the wheat farmer, maybe later paddy.


Indian Express, 27 May 2011

20% bonus for no litigation in land acquisition: Hooda

In Agriculture, Property Rights on May 28, 2011 at 3:41 am

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, whose state was the first to implement an annuity scheme as part of its land acquisition policy, has favoured legal provisions on future enhancement of compensation along with a “no-litigation” incentive for those whose land is acquired.

“Legal provisions should be made to automatically allow for a review and increase compensation amount to farmers whose land is taken by the government for development,” Hooda told the Indian Express.

He said such provisions should be incorporated along with a “no-litigation” incentive agreement that would ensure an additional bonus to those whose land is acquired. The provisions could also include additional benefits that could be non-financial, he added.

The Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, which deliberated on the land acquisition policy on Wednesday and gave its suggestions to the government, is silent on such provisions.

“In Haryana, we have just started a no-litigation incentive wherein those who are willing to sign an agreement that they will not file lawsuits, will get an additional 20 percent of the compensation amount fixed, as bonus. This is in addition to the primary compensation and the solatium fixed,” he said.

He added that the legal provision for increasing compensation would help in addressing future demands for a review and additional payments without posing setbacks to development projects because of unnecessary litigation.

Haryana is among the states paying highest compensation to farmers for land acquired, with payouts totalling Rs 72 lakh per acre in places within the Gurgaon Municipal limits.


Indian Express, 27 May 2011

Is there slavery in Kolkata’s red light district Sonagachi?

In Rape Case on May 28, 2011 at 3:38 am

At the beginning, I knew only about a young teenage girl imprisoned on the third floor of a brothel in a red-light district here in Kolkata. The pimps nicknamed her Chutki. She had just been sold to the brothel-owner and seemed terrified. Investigators with International Justice Mission, a group that fights human trafficking, had spotted Chutki while prowling undercover. IJM needed evidence to convince the Kolkata police to undertake a raid to free the girl, so an official asked: Would I like to accompany him as he sneaked into the brothel to gather some?

India probably has more modern slaves than any country in the world. It has millions of women and girls in its brothels, often held captive for their first few years until they grow resigned to their fate. China surely has more prostitutes, but they are typically working voluntarily. India’s brothels are also unusually violent, with ferocious beatings and even murders. Unicef has estimated that 1.8 million children enter the sex trade each year. Too many are in the US, which should prosecute pimps more aggressively, but the worst abuses take place in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Cambodia.

 

So I set off with the IJM investigator into the alleys of the Sonagachi red-light district one evening, slipped into the brothel, and climbed to the third floor. And there were Chutki and three other girls in a room, a pimp hovering over them. Perceiving us as potential customers, he offered them to us. We demurred but said we’d be back.

The Kolkata police agreed to raid the brothel to free the girl, casually asking us to lead the way since we knew what Chutki looked like and where she was kept. So along with a carload of police, we drove up to the brothel and rushed inside to avoid giving the pimps time to hide Chutki or to escape. We hurtled up the stairs, brushed past the pimp and found Chutki and the three other girls in the same room. Two social workers from IJM began comforting Chutki, who police said was about 15. Then another of the girls asked if she could be rescued — but a few days later. If she left now, the brothel-owners might harm her grandmother, whose address they knew. We told her a chance might not come again. She dissolved into tears, wavered and then decided to come out. Then a third said that she wanted to escape as well.

The girls said that the brothel-owner was in another building, arranging to sell a new girl named Raya for the very first time, either that evening or the next night. The police hurried off and returned with Raya, a wide-eyed girl of about 10. It seemed that the brothel had purchased Raya just a week earlier, after her own brother-in-law tricked her and trafficked her. If the raid had been delayed by a few hours, she might have faced the first of many rapes.

With Raya was a five-year-old girl who seemed to have been abandoned. Perhaps the brothel-owners were grooming her for sale in a few more years. So we emerged with five lives that had just been transformed. Equally important, one pimp had been arrested and arrest warrants had been issued for two more. There are no quick fixes to human trafficking, but prosecuting pimps and brothel-owners makes a difference. A study in Cebu, Philippines, found that helping police and courts target child prostitution resulted in 87 arrests over four years — and a 79 per cent reduction in the number of children in the sex trade.

We drove the five girls to a police station to fill out paperwork so that they could move into shelters and receive schooling or vocational training. Raya, the 10-year-old who otherwise at that moment might have been enduring her first rape, was giggly and carefree as she pretended to drive the car. She behaved like a silly little girl — which was thrilling.

 

Indian Express, 27 May 2011

Gujarat schools oppose govt notice on hiring staff

In Corruption, Education on May 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Members of Gujarat State School Management
Association (GSSMA) organised a meeting on Wednesday to oppose a recent notification by the state education department.
On February 11, the department had issued a notification stating that the power of appointing staff has been withdrawn from school managements.

The recruitment of teachers would now be done by the recruitment board under the chairmanship of CV Som, commissioner of schools.

More than 7,000 school trustees of grant-in-aid schools from all over the state were present at the meeting. PK Lahiri, former chief secretary of state was the chief guest at the event.

Speaking to DNA, Ambubhai Patel, president of GSSMA said, “Since 1950, the school managements have the authority to appoint teachers and the responsibility to run schools. If the education department recruits teachers, it is like snatching our freedom.” The Supreme Court had ruled that the enrolment of teachers is to be managed by school managements which the education department is not following, he added.

According to Patel, GSSMA has appealed in the high court against the notification. The hearing is scheduled on July 12.

He added, “In this meeting, we are going to decide our future action plan if the high court decision is not in our favour.”

Earlier the government had argued that grant-in-aid schools used to appoint teachers who were relatives of school trustees. The notification was issued to curb such corrupt practices.

DNA, 26 May 2011

NAC for 100% land acquisition by govt

In Poverty Eradication, Property Rights, Tribal Development on May 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm
New Delhi:With Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee resigning from the Union Cabinet to take over as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) today completely sidelined her objections against government role in land acquisition — even for private industry.“The government will be acquiring 100 per cent of the land for public purpose by offering very good compensation to landowners. If the public purpose is being served by a private industry, then government will acquire land for them as well,” a NAC member told The Indian Express after the meeting chaired by Sonia Gandhi in the capital today.

With land rate compensation becoming a hot political issue, the NAC also decided to recommend that landowners be given six times the price of plot purchases registered in that area, said a press release issued late in the evening.

The other recommendations:

Participatory and full consultation with affected families on acquisition. At least 75 per cent should consent.

A law to ensure “more barren, less fertile and wastelands have been explored”, before acquisition of agricultural land.

Land acquired be returned to original owners if it is not used within 5 years.

Agricultural workers, artisans, fisher-folk and forest-gatherers to be affected by the acquisition should get 10 days’ minimum wages of that area every month for 33 years as compensation.

Option to seek all or part of the land compensation in annuities.

A single ‘National Development, Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act’ in place of the two legislations Amendment to Land Acquisition Act and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act.

Establishment of the National Commission for Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation (NCLRR) to supervise the implementation of provisions.

Two per cent of urban land be reserved for urban vendors; a legislation be introduced making it mandatory for government to rehabilitate every manual scavenger.

Reform of the Integrated Child Development Scheme.

The decision on government role in acquisition is a major departure from the previous approved amendments that had imposed a ceiling of 30 per cent land acquisition by the government for private industry. More so, the government was allowed to undertake land acquisition for private projects provided the private person had already acquired at least 70 per cent land.

Even the land compensation rate is a change from previous amendments suggested by the government, where it had stipulated that the market price of top 50 per cent of land transactions during previous three years be taken as the price for compensation. This was to be supplemented with 60 per cent additional solatium.

While Mamata had opposed any role for government in land acquisition for private projects, the industry was advocating 100 per cent acquisition by the government, citing difficulty in negotiating prices with each land owner. It had recently petitioned Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh against withdrawing government role.

However, Deshmukh said the single legislation replacing Land Acquisition Act and R&R Act might be a problem. “The Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill provides for rehabilitation of people affected far beyond those getting affected due to implementation of the Land Acquisition Act alone. Its provisions are also for people getting affected due to national calamities and other land acquisition provisions,” the Rural Development Minister said.

Krishi Bhavan officials said the legislation being proposed by NAC would also cover acquisition for Railways and national highways, for which there is a separate legislation. However, NAC member Harsh Mander contested this argument: “Nobody is stopping to bring those legislations (for Railways and highways) in conformity with the proposed single comprehensive legislation.”


Financial Express, 26 May 2o11

Despite extra marks, docs skip rural areas

In Public Health on May 27, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Two years after Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced “extra marks” in the post-graduate entrance exam for those willing to go to rural areas, the scheme has no takers. “I am sorry to say that no one has come forward to practice in rural areas,” admitted Azad.

In a bid to encourage doctors to opt for rural areas for medical practice, Azad had in 2009 announced the granting of extra marks up 10 per cent for one year, 20 per cent for two years of consecutive practice and 30 per cent for three years. The scheme was extended to in-service doctors with the idea of retaining talent in rural areas wherein they were offered 50 per cent reservation in postgraduate diploma seats if they worked in rural areas. There are about 3,500 seats for post graduation courses in government medical colleges.

“Hardly anybody has come forward to opt for the scheme,” said Azad, adding that it is difficult to know the reasons behind the doctors’ unwillingness.

Dr Randeep Guleria, a professor at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), said that things will not improve unless rural areas have proper basic facilities and rural posting is declared as mandatory. “Majority of doctors go to the US after doing their MBBS from AIIMS. None of them want to go to rural areas,” he said.

“Things will improve only when the facilities in rural areas improve,” said Director of AIIMS R C Deka.

The only other option with the ministry to curtail the problem of shortage of doctors is to go ahead with the Bachelor of Rural Health Care course. The proposed course got stuck after the earlier Medical Council of India led by Dr S K Sarin refused to notify it. The course was unanimously endorsed by all states at the state health ministers’ meet held this February.

Indian Express, 26 May 2011

Go/No Go for forest land

In Livelihood, Poverty Eradication, Property Rights on May 26, 2011 at 2:55 am

THE ASHOK Chawla committee has recommended that forests be classified into zones on the basis of their ecological value, something on the lines of the contentious Go/No-Go categorisation for coal mining.

Such a classification would make highly eco-sensitive parts out of bounds for economic activity, but the panel has such an exercise is necessary for bringing predictability in granting forest clearance to projects and for reducing delays in the approval process.

“The proposed classification of forests could be based

on criteria such as biological attributes, geo-climatic attributes, and stakeholder valuation. This could permit the delineation of inviolate (areas) that are extremely eco-sensitive and would not be diverted for non-forest purposes under any circumstances or only for a defined set of limited circumstances,” the Chawla Committee has said.

The report does not ever mention “Go/No-Go” though it builds on the same concept.

Another significant recommendation relates to the calculation of net present value, or NPV, of forest land being diverted for any project. This

NPV has to be paid by the project proponent as compensation for forest land destroyed.

The committee has stressed a need to re-assess the valuation of forests and feels the present value is low compared to that of agricultural land.

“While the highest eco-class has a value of about Rs 4 lakh per acre, the current compensation for land acquisition in Haryana is Rs 12 to 40 lakh per acre depending on location. In addition, there is a solatium of 30 per cent and an additional no-litigation incentive of 20 per cent, i.e., the amount is actually between Rs 18 to 60 lakh per acre,” the report says.

Forests Massive capacity building of state forest departments Classification on basis of land’s ecological value; some parts may become inviolate All information on Environment Ministry and state forest department websites Reassessment of valuation of forest land and payments by project proponent.


Indian Express, 24 May 2011

Mahuva-shy, state reworks its land acquisition policy

In Property Rights on May 26, 2011 at 2:53 am

HAVING faced farmers’ opposition over land acquisition for the Nirma cement plant in Mahuva, the state government is now reshaping its land acquisition policy, making it farmer-friendly.

The reworked policy details being shared with the Centre states that the government will not forcibly acquire farm land for private companies.

Gujarat has witnessed frequent opposition by farmers over land acquisition, and the new policy will take care to control the stand off between industries and agriculture, according to state government officials.

Principal Revenue Secretary P.Pannervel said: “For the first time, we are planning to bring out a Farmland Acquisition and Land Losers Resettlement and Rehabilitation Policy in which private land acquisition will be made 100 per cent through farmers’ consent only. The government will not do any forceful acquisition for any private

company.”

Pannervel said the proposed policy will be applicable to the state government projects like GIDC estate land, public purpose land acquisition and others too. But there will be certain relaxation for the state/Central government notified areas like Special Investment Region (SIR), industrial parkestates and the like, Examples are the Central government projects like Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), he said.

In the new proposed policy, there will be provision of providing alternate land, and attempts will be made for minimum segregation of farmers’ land. In case of major segregation of farmers’ land, the farmer will be offered a chunk of land at one place only. Where an entire village land will be acquired, the rehabilitation will have to be made at the farmers’ choice of place only.

Pannervel said, “We hope to bring out this new policy within a month.”

What is on offer for farmers PRIVATE companies will have to directly deal with the farmers for land acquisition, and the government will not step in on their behalf to seek farm lands.

THE government will do forceful acquisition only in case of public utility projects like national highways, but while protecting the farmers’ interests.

THE companies acquiring land will have to make the farmers equity partners, in addition to giving them compensation as

per farmers’ consent at market rates.

ALSO 30 per cent money (paid to the next of kin in case of death) will be provided to the farmers.

ONE person of the farmer’s family should be guaranteed employment and education costs for the other has to be provided.

HEALTH insurance and land loser’s allowance will have to be paid to the farmers.

Indian Express, 24 May 2011