Land Provision for Development Projects

Infrastructure development, Industrialization, and developmental activities require agriculture land to be converted for non-agricultural purposes. Land acquisition bills have been introduced in many states and by the central government that provide procedures for accessing land for developmental purposes.

Broadly, the land requirements for non-agricultural purposes have been identified under three categories. The first category of land is required for public infrastructure such as roads, and other common public utilities. The second category includes land required for projects under public-private partnership and the third category includes land required for private projects.

Presently, the land acquisition is effected by a government notification acquiring the agricultural land required for a project. There are some differences in the way the land from an agriculturist is acquired for three different categories, but the summary is that the owner of the land is divested with the ownership when the notification is issued in return to a compensation.

There are some social consequences from the process of land acquisition provided by the existing laws. Land ownership is changed when a land is acquired for a development project. Farmers, many of them dependent on agriculture and rooted in and around their lands for hundreds of years would be disconnected from their native places and new set of people would move into the area. Both the new and old people struggle to adjust to the new realities. This is being viewed as an emotional issue – but in the globalized, industrial world order, this pattern also has a security and sustainability angle.

From the economic sense, the land price is steadily increasing and the compensation for the acquired land will prove to be much less comapared to a future market price. The difference is typically very high over a short period of few years and the original owner will perceive a notional loss of value for his land.

To address the social consequences, the following proposal is presented.

1. A land requirement notice is to be issued by the government with details of the project, preferred region for establishing the project, land requirement details.

2. A land co-operative society is to be established for managing the land required for the project

3. Farmers are given option of joining the land co-operative society. Land swapping options are facilitated by the government for those who would like to retain land / or participate in the project with suitable one time compensation. Land would be converted to land certificates in the name of the farmers for easy handling of the claims.

4. The land co-operative society will negotiate with the project owners and arrive at a set of terms and conditions including financial aspects. The financial aspects would be linked with the market value of the land in that region.

5. Land owners will continue to be the owners of their land – they are free to sell, divide, and acquire other portions of the land as before without any constraints.

6. The only constraint on the land owned by the land co-operative society would be to safeguard the venture of the project as planned in the project proposal. When the project ends or closed, an alternative venture would replace and the arrangement would continue. In case of absence of an alternate arrangement, the land should be prepared for the agricultural purposes. The land co-operative society would take up collective farming activities.

7. If that is not possible, the government would provide alternate land certificates to the owners of the land so that their revenue stream continues.

8. If the owner does not prefer alternative land certificates, the government would notify exclusion of the farmer from the co-operative society and would return the land to the owner.