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Shardul Shroff and Pallavi Bedi at Amarchand Mangaldas unearth practical and logistical problems thrown up by the land acquisition bill

Widespread protests and agitation against land acquisition have threatened various projects. The Tatas were forced to shift their car manufacturing plant from West Bengal to Gujarat. Posco’s factory in Orissa, its first in India, has been delayed by over eight years due to opposition from landowners.

Shardul Shroff
Shardul Shroff

Land acquisition in India is regulated by the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. There is no law on rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R), which is governed by the National Rehabilitation Policy, 2007. Many felt that the 1894 act had outlived its purpose and that there was an urgent need for a new law. The first serious attempt to rewrite the act was made through the Land Acquisition Bill, 2007, and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007. However, both bills lapsed in 2009 with the dissolution of parliament. In another attempt to replace the act, the government in 2011 introduced the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011. In December 2012, the name of the bill was changed to The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012.

Land acquisition in India is an extremely controversial subject and in light of the complexities involved there is little likelihood of any law satisfying all the interested parties. One major concern that this bill has addressed is the integration of land acquisition and R&R into one law. Although the bill has achieved this, it has created a further set of issues, some of which are discussed below.

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Shardul Shroff is the managing partner at Amarchand Mangaldas and Pallavi Bedi is a research scholar at the firm. They can be contacted at shardul.shroff@amarchand.com and pallavi.bedi@amarchand.com.

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