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U.P. announces new Land Acquisition Policy

Atiq Khan

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati meeting farmers in Lucknow on Thursday.

LUCKNOW: Having had to face a series of farmers' protests and flak from Opposition parties over acquisition of land for development and expressway projects in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Mayawati on Thursday announced that all future land transactions would be clinched directly between the farmers and the private developers by adopting a “consensual approach”.

“The role of the government now would be that of a facilitator only, limited to issuing a notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894,” the Chief Minister said announcing the new Land Acquisition Policy of the State. This is the second such policy to be announced by the Mayawati regime in the past nine months; the earlier policy was declared on September 3, 2010.

The new policy will be implemented with prospective effect and will not apply to the acquisition of land made under the earlier policy. The announcement of the new policy followed a “kisan panchayat” addressed by the Chief Minister on Thursday. The panchayat was attended by farmers' representatives from Bharatiya Kisan Union, including its general secretary Rakesh Tikait, and those from Tappal and Bhatta and Parsaul.

Ms. Mayawati said the new policy had been framed after elaborate discussions with the farmers' representatives. “The new policy will be implemented with prospective effect, but any further suggestions made by the farmers will be added by issuing separate GOs,” Ms. Mayawati told reporters.

Describing the new policy, Ms. Mayawati claimed it would be better than the “proposed land acquisition policy of the UPA government”.

She said the land acquisition policy would be raised by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha and if the Centre's policy was not announced the BSP would gherao Parliament.

The new Land Acquisition Policy has been divided into three parts. The first part deals with direct transfer of land from farmers to private developers, with the State (district administration) playing the role of facilitator. The policy states that the land acquisition package will be prepared only after the terms and conditions have been approved by 70 per cent of the farmers whose land is to be acquired for the project. If 70 per cent of the farmers do not agree, the project proposal will be reconsidered.

The farmers have been given the option of taking 16 per cent of the land developed for the project along with annuity at the rate of Rs.23,000 per acre for 33 years. The farmers can also opt for cash component in lieu of a portion of the 16 per cent developed land. The annuity rate has been increased from Rs.20,000 to Rs.23,000 per acre with an annual increase of Rs.800 per acre.

Farmers who wish to forgo annuity will be entitled to a rehabilitation grant at the rate of Rs.2.76 lakh per acre.

The rehabilitation grant in the September 2010 policy was at the rate of Rs.2.40 lakh per acre.

According to the second part of the policy, farmers whose agricultural land has been acquired for building State highways and canals will be entitled to all the benefits accruing under the State's Relief and Rehabilitation Policy, 2010.

Apart from the rehabilitation grant, 25 per cent shares of the developer company will be allotted to the farmer and one member of each farmer's family will be given a job in the company.

In the third part of the policy where land has been acquired by the development authorities under the master plan, the deal will be executed only abiding by the terms of agreement through a consensual approach.

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