So many controversial features it has?

Yes, big corporates have expressed strong reservations and  questioned the wisdom of the many provisions

Some of the major infrastructure projects are delayed as long as 216 months. First, the very name change. The British enacted old 1894 land acquisition bill didn’t seek the consent of the farmers. Those days have long past gone.

Today, we live in a democracy where the voice of the people is very strong and also on the very day when we talk of this topic, we have reverberations all over, over the land “acquired” by such high profile names like the Gandhi family and also other big names, most of the names are big political leaders. The accusers are also no less powerful. Apart from Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the Indian against Corruption, we have now such persons like the former Haryana Chief Minister, O.P.Chautala  who has dragged in Rahul Gandhi, apart from  Robert Vadra. Now, BJP President Nitin Gadgari and also NCP leader Ajit Pawar are all making the rounds.

So, land acquisition and that too agricultural land, however, you can manipulate and however you justify is going to be a highly sensitive and highly, politically speaking, explosive issue for days to come.

So, the newly proposed land acquisition bill, called now Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill(LARR) is not going to be an easy thing.

Already fears have been expressed, from Larson and Tubro to Mukesh Ambani to others, like the M&M and Raheja and DLF, the ones who are very much into the big infrastructure and housing projects have all spoken out expressing their strong reservations.

What reservations?

First, the political overtones.
The current controversies on the fight against corruption mostly revolves round the acquisition or buying of the prime agricultural land, conversion, mutation into non-agricultural use and then getting it converted into commercial projects.

These have seen everywhere involving huge corruption at many levels.
So, says A.N.Nayak, whose L&T is into building the Navi Mumbai airport: the very RR mandate, rehabilitation and resettlement, a burden that is now sought to be cast on the builder is near impossible and possibly might inflate costs, in the case of Navi Mumbai, by about as much as Rs.4,500 crores!

Also, the other implication?
The 66 per cent consent from farmers, the rest under obligation to sell at 4 times the price in rural areas, two times in the urban areas is also fraught with so many issues.
The  34 per cent of the farmers might hold up, the independent purchaser, a builder might buy the land for pure speculation. How to prevent that? Near impossible?

Yes, it looks so as explained by the big builders the other day on the TV chants.
Then, the role of the  government.

This is still very undefined.
The bill will pass through the next Parliament easily? Doubtful.

Yet, see already how the major political parties have positioned. The Congress claims it has kept up its promises. This is just for the next election propaganda.BJP welcomed the draft.
According to the data available with us, we can see that the economy is slowing down. One reason is that many of the big ticket infrastructure projects, airports, roads, ports and other big projects  are leading to projects delays, cost over-runs and time over-runs etc.

Over some 7.35% of the projects are held up owing to delay to settle the RR issues.
Even the dam oustees of the past have problems. The Narmada dam people are still to be rehabilitated to the full.

Environmental clearances, over forest lands, ecology, pollution and other issues have held upto 12.05% projects. Adverse geo-mining projects account for 5.14% projects. Contractors issues, slow civil works, law and order issues, as in the case of many tribal lands and tribals agitations, some of the biggest projects in steel and other ore -based industries, especially in Odisha are so held up. In many part of the NHA roads, there are contractors and civil works issues.

And so, the agricultural land acquisiton, as also from the experience of Mamata Banerjee’s agitations over the Tata car project in West Bengal would remain fresh in memory.
In all these issues, the most challenging issue seems to be the issue of large scale corruption and political corruption at the big places.

One can’t say at this point of time how the issue of political corruption at high places would place itself out. In a democracy, it is not easy to get away with these sorts of charges made by civil society groups.

Even in the USA, as in the recent  Presidential elections there is the big money playing such a crucial role in the outcome of elections. The USA has very stringent election watch dogs. As per one estimate made by one agency, Centre for Responsive Politics, CRP, the foremost poll-spending tracker, in the USA the total amount spent on Congressional politics alone would amount to 6 billion dollars. Each candidate would have to spend at least some  1.5 billion each. Already some of the big donors names are given out. Big banks(too big to fail banks, as they are derisively called) like Goldman  Sachs, JP Mogan Chase, and Citigroup gave Obama in 2008,as much as 2.5 million at least!

Wall Street banks is a class in themselves.
They decide, demand and get done their demands once they make this sort of big election donations. The point here that in India, the only difference to this sort of open big donations by well-known names, we in India can only suspect the big names.
It is the suspect big names that now have contributed in a way to the current status of the big corruption issues.

The democracy in India is at a sorry state. The democracy in India, its Parliament, the MPs, among them the big industrialists are now playing havoc with their names or their associations with the big scandals and scams!

So, what chance the land acquisition bill would really contribute or make a difference to the current vitiated atmosphere. Unfortunately, all the big names of politicians, the ministers and MPs who are associated with the land acquisition draft themselves stand to be exposed.

Each political party, if it aligns with its opposition counterpart, as proved in the Gandkari’s alleged links with the NCP and also with the Haryana government’s links with the builders and the political scions who are playing into this land grabbing game, then it is anybody’s guess if we simply takes these legislations at their face value.

It is a sad day at the end of the day, indeed!

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