In search of a model land legislation: the new Land Acquisition Bill and its challenges

The draft Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha on September 7, 2011 is one of the most important legislations waiting for Parliamentary approval. In its present form, the bill is a major improvement over the archaic 1894 land law that has contributed to the impasse over land acquisitions across the country. The bill makes a genuine push for a better land acquisition regime in the country by doing three things: combining both compensations, resettlement and rehabilitation (R&R) into a single bill; raising the prospects of better compensation and R&R for millions of land owners and other project stakeholders; and reposing some faith in participatory grassroots institutions such as Gram Sabha in the acquisition process. On the other hand, the proposed legislation fails on many fronts to address some of the vexed issues on land acquisition.