A new law on land acquisition, which was passed by parliament and cleared by the country’s president last year, has come into force in India.

The law, which came into effect on Wednesday, is considered a turning point in that it has completely overhauled and replaced the previous 119-year-old law that was enacted during the British colonial rule.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act is expected to generously increase the cost of acquisition of land, reports said.

In rural areas, owners of land will have to be paid four times the market value while in urban areas, land owners will need to be paid two times the market value.

According to some estimates, with the new law in force, it may no longer be possible to get land anywhere less than Rs 25 lakh ($40,350) per acre, which is at least 50 times its cost a decade ago.

The new law, which took at least a decade to be formulated and then get passed by parliament, was introduced following controversies and problems on the issue of land acquisition and rehabilitation of the displaced.

Controversial projects

Scores of major projects like the Narmada valley dam project and proposed Posco steel plant in Odisha either got unduly delayed or were stopped mid-way as local communities protested against the raw deal they received in exchange for their lands.

Under the new law, at least 70 per cent of affected people will have to give their consent for acquiring land for public-private partnership projects, and 80 per cent have to concur if the land is being acquired by private companies.

Where land over 100 acres is acquired in rural areas and 50 acres in urban areas for a private project, it becomes the responsibility of the private owner to take care of the rehabilitation of the people displaced by the project.

To implement the law, state governments will need to set up specific institutions which will hear disputes over acquisition and sort out any dispute speedily. The institutions will also need to look into issues of rehabilitation of the dispossessed, the reports said.

Source: Al Jazeera