Hyderabad: In a major boost to the State government efforts to put irrigation and highways projects on the fast track, the Presidential assent for the just-passed “Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Telangana Amendment) Act, 2016″ is likely to come by the end of January.
Since the Centre has already assured the State of clearing it in the next Cabinet meeting, the government is hopeful of having the Act published in the gazette in the first week of February. The State is firm on completing the land acquisition for its key irrigation and highway projects by speeding up the process under the new Act.
The State has an enormous task ahead for itself in acquiring the land that is required for its irrigation projects and 20 highway projects sanctioned by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). A sense of urgency has gripped the land acquisition machinery, especially the Revenue Department as the Government is firm on putting the implementation of key irrigation projects on fast track.
The Ministry for Highways and surface transport made it clear that the new highway projects would be taken up on “first come first served” basis. Works on the new highways would be grounded only in case of projects for which at least 90 per cent of land acquisition was completed. The government has already tasked the collectors of the districts concerned with close monitoring of the land acquisition process.
One lakh acres required
The ongoing works on the irrigation projects would require at least one lakh acres more to be acquired while the new highway projects that would add to the state highway network by another 2872 kms would require an extent of 50,000 acres more in the first phase. Though the laws provide considerable leeway for acquiring land for public purposes, the government was keen on going ahead with its projects only by ensuring fair compensation preferably with the consent of the farmers.
The Irrigation Department had acquired some 2.5 lakh acres in Telangana for the projects taken up under the Jalayagnam during the previous congress regime in the undivided State. After formation of the Telangana State, another 65000 acres of land was acquired by the present government. Nearly 44,000 acres of its was acquired under GO No 123 by hiking the compensation by ten times. Another 20,000 acres of land was acquired under the Land acquisition Act 2013.
Moves are afoot for acquiring some 8000 acres on war footing as it was required for laying four lanes in place of two lanes for some 650 kms under five of the new projects for which the detailed project reports are getting ready. The requirement of land for the other road projects was being assessed. Under the 2013 Act, the acquisition process is taking in certain cases nearly two to three years, thanks to the cumbersome procedures involved.
Under the Constitution, land acquisition belongs to the Concurrent List. Article 254(2) of the Constitution allows a State to amend a Central Act on the Concurrent List provided the Central government approves of the amendment. Under the present government, States of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have amended several labour laws that fall under the Concurrent List.
The same can be applied to land acquisition subject to the Central government giving its approval.
Tamil Nadu government has already amended the 2013 Act with the amended act coming into force in Tamil Nadu on January 5, 2015.