Honourable Members of Parliament,

We are writing to you with utmost urgency on the issue of the new Bill on Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011, which is scheduled to be introduced today in the Lok Sabha.

You must be aware of the intense struggles going on in various states across the country around the issues related to land acquisition, displacement, development plans and projects. The farmers, fish workers, labourers, artisans, facing up-rootment from not just their socio-cultural environs but also livelihoods are compelled to get united and raise their voices against unjust displacement.

Non-violent, peaceful and democratic organizations and their alliances are questioning forcible acquisition of land and everything attached to land, including minerals, ground water, as well as habitats, tree cover and common property resources that result in pauperization, more often, without rehabilitation.

It is in this context that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 of British origin is to be necessarily abolished and a new Bill is to come forth, which is a very welcome move.

However, you may kindly note that after a long process of 30 years of travails, not merely struggles, but constant dialogue with the Ministers concerned and the Parliamentary Standing Committee of the 13th and 14th Lok Sabha, the all-Party Standing Committee has given its unanimous report that is self-explanatory. This report with recommendations therein, many of which are quite progressive and understand the ground reality. Some of the prominent recommendations include:

  • No forcible land acquisition for private corporations.

  • Free prior informed consent of project affected people, not land losers alone, for every kind project, contrary to what is being proposed as amendments 80% and 70% consent of land losers for private projects and PPP projects respectively.

  • No acquisition of agricultural land for any project to be covered under the new Act.

  • Role of Gram Sabhas in Social Impact Assessment emphasized.

In spite of this, a Group of Ministers under the chairmanship of Shri Sharad Pawar sidelined the Report of the Standing Committee and amended the Draft of the Ministry of Rural Development mostly to favour the corporates. Since then, the Union Cabinet too has approved the Bill but with not less than 150 amendments to the Draft previously placed before the House and one that was sent to the Standing Committee on Rural Development of the 14th Lok Sabha.

The amendments carefully looked into, clearly indicate the swift changes of the Bill which are against the transparency, accountability and democratic participatory planning of development projects with people whose resources are to become the capital, indispensable.

To exemplify, at places, the ‘Gram Sabha’ and role assigned to it as a ‘community’ is replaced to a provision that if the stated public purpose is not to be fulfilled by the Project i.e. changed after initiation of the land acquisition process, then the same will have to be stalled and re-started. The proposed amendment replaces the stated public purpose by ‘any public purpose’. In any case, the basic flaws or gaps left in the draft bill with or without amendments is such that the Bill in the present condition can’t be approved. Worth mentioning is the issue of:

  1.  There are number of objections to this bill from various quarters, especially various people’s movements. Principal among them are: definition of ‘public purpose’ and ‘urgent’ clauses, compensation issues, role of government in land acquisition, land for infrastructure projects, changes in land use (from agriculture to non-agriculture) and past experience.

  2. All 16 acts under which land is acquired across the country are not brought under the preview of the new enactment.

  3. There is total disregard expressed for the small to marginal farmers, their mostly rain-fed agriculture land, since all Party Standing Committee’s recommendations to leave out / exclude all agricultural land from forcible acquisition is rejected and only the irrigated multi – crop land is to be excluded. This is unacceptable, as it goes against dalit, adivasi and other farmers for whom the land proposed for acquisition is the only small scale source of livelihood. They, in fact, need to be protected.

  4. This bill does not refer to displacement by urban development, such as Master Plans, etc. There is a need include retrospective effect of LA bill, to include past land displacements, return of land unutilised under SEZs and other industrial zones, compensation issues, etc. Rajeev Awaas Yojana in urban areas is also becoming a vehicle for displacement and land acquisition.

  5. LA bill mentions Social Impact Assessment as necessity. But, who decides on the findings of the Assessment is very important.

  6. There is a demand to scrap all projects and return the land to farmers, since land is important for food production. Agriculture land should never be acquired

  7. Quantum of land has to be assessed, for each activity, slated for land acquisition

  8. Time/period of utilisation of Land acquired has to be specified, and nullifying LA after the period.

  9. LA Act 1894, was amended in 1984, to enable land acquisition by the government for private companies, which is the most dangerous change.

  10. This bill does not address the dichotomy between Land owners and landless.

  11. Gramsabha consent, along with consent of 80 percent owners, as stipulated in the bill needs to be asked for all kinds of projects.

  12. Land and associated natural resources (water and minerals) are linked and have to be taken cognizance by this bill in its preamble.

  13. The preamble should specifically mention that ‘land under agriculture’ would not be acquired at all.

Given that there are irreconcilable / unresolvable issues in above bill, we demand major changes in the current bill. The revised bill should have the following features:

  1. Redefine Project affected people to include all the categories of people to be impacted by any project for public purpose

  2. Participatory Development Planning, People Oriented Public Purpose and Transparent & Accountable Decision making in the hands of the Gram and Basti Sabha and not in the bureaucratic bodies and authorities.

  3. No Forced Displacement and Mandatory Free and Prior Informed Consent

  4. Socio-Economic, Environmental and Human Rights Impacts Assessment, Project Planning and People’s Participation has to be ensured

  5. Project Review and monitoring with the participation of Gram and Basti Sabha has to be done, regularly

  6. Scope and Applicability of the public purpose and law has to be adhered to

  7. Land Rights of communities granted under various laws to be accepted and respected

  8. Land for Land’ Rehabilitation

  9. Compensation for loss of land, livelihood and opportunities

  10. Calculation of the Land Value has to reflect market values

  11. Reasonable Time Frame for completion of R&R

  12. First Rights of the Affected persons to get employment, not cash in lie of employment

  13. Special Provisions for Dalits, Adivasis and Women

  14. Essential Components of the Resettlement & Rehabilitation ground-rules: The rules to be created under this legislation must include: (i) Land for all agricultural families; (ii) mandatory employment in non-irrigation projects; (iii) Special employment guarantee programme for a minimum period of 5 years after relocation to new sites; (iv) Homesteads and dwelling houses to all displaced families; (v) Transportation cost to the place of rehabilitation; (vi) training and other support services; (vii) Rehabilitation grant to compensate loss of income/livelihood; (viii) Basic amenities and infrastructural facilities for en masse resettlement; (ix) special provisions for families who have been displaced multiple times.

  15. Establishment of National Resettlement and Rehabilitation Commission to deal with all the claims of R&R of the project affected people since independence.


It is also obvious to anyone scanning the Bill that the provisions for resettlement and rehabilitation are mostly cash based and not livelihood based. This can lure people to give away their land, especially, if farmers, are ignorant or facing crisis, requiring some support.


You may also kindly note that by leaving out 13 out of 16 Acts, not incorporated in the new Bill. Only the Defence Act, SEZ Act and Cantonments Act are covered. This mockey needs to end and acquistion of minimum non-agricultural land ensuring minimum displacement and that too through the legal process needs to be upheld.

In order to ensure that all this happens, the only way forward, is to send the Bill back to the Standing Commitee once again, but with time-bound ToR. Can this happen with your intervention please, so as to gain more space for Parliamentarians also ? This can be made possible by your party and your good self taking a position and putting these decision in the Parliament tomorrow.

With sincere regards,

Medha Patkar – Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM); Dr. Sunilam, Aradhna Bhargava – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, MP; Prafulla Samantara – Lok Shakti Abhiyan, NAPM, Odisha; Gautam Bandopadhyay – Nadi Ghati Morcha, NAPM, Chhattisgarh; Ulka Mahajan, Suniti SR, Prasad Bagwe – SEZ Virodhi Manch and NAPM, Maharashtra; Gabriel Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan – Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, TN; Rajendra Ravi, Anita Kapoor – NAPM, Delhi; Akhil Gogoi – Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, NAPM, Assam; Arundhati Dhuru, Sandeep Pandey – NAPM, UP; Sister Celia – Domestic Workers Union, NAPM, Karnataka; Sumit Wanjale, Madhuri Shivkar, Simpreet Singh – Ghar Bachao, Ghar Banao Andolan, NAPM, Mumbai; Dr.Rupesh Verma – Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, UP; Manish Gupta – Jan Kalyan Upbhokta Samiti, NAPM, UP; Vimal Bhai – Matu Jan sangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand; Vilas Bhongade – Gosikhurd Prakalpgrast Sangharsh Samiti, NAPM, Maharashtra; Ramashray Singh – Ghatwar Adivasi Mahasabha, Jharkhand; Anand Mazhgaonkar, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat

 For details contact : Madhuresh Kumar 9818905316 | Sanjeev – 99958797409

email : napmindia@gmail.com


NAPM India