Clearing the decks for land acquisition under the UPA-enacted land acquisition law, the NDA government has notified the rules for its implementation. The new rules notified last month, while bringing clarity in the process of social impact assessment and reducing the scope for litigations, also addresses some of the concerns of the industry.
Under the rules the public hearing has to be conducted in all the gram sabhas where members are directly or indirectly affected by acquisition of the land. Again a gram sabha with half of its members present can pass the resolution in favour or against the acquisition by a majority vote.
Giving a leeway to the acquiring authority from listing out all the families affected by the acquisition, the rules give the leeway to give just a representative sample.
To ensure acquisition of minimum amount of land and to facilitate its utilisation, the rules makes it mandatory for the government to prepare a district level inventory of waste and barren land and unutilised public land.
Under public private partnership projects and projects by the private companies, a list of all affected land owners from whom consent is required has to be drawn out by the district authorities. This list has to be made available in the affected area for at least 10 days before obtaining consent.
In order to do away with any ambiguity in preparing the social impact assessment (SIA) report, the new rules give out an exhaustive list of socio economic and cultural parameters to be covered by SIA. For example in defining the health impact, it specifically mentions the impact of the project on the health of the women and elderly.
The rules however stick to the contentious six months deadline for submission of the SIA report. The industry had objected to the periods saying it was too long and results in cost escalation of the projects.