Land Acquisition Bill Gives Special Concessions to SCS & STS
The Land Acquisition Bill, which has been renamed as “The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012 has a separate Chapter to protect the interests of tribals and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes. Where acquisition does take place it shall be done as a demonstrable last resort. The Bill stipulates that as far as possible no acquisition shall take place in the Scheduled Areas. And where such acquisition does take place it has to be done with the approval/ consent of the local institutions of self-governance (including the autonomous councils where they exist).
Following measures have been incorporated in the Bill to protect the interests and concerns of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes:
· Development Plan: A Development Plan has to be prepared laying down the details of procedure for settling land rights due but not settled and restoring titles of tribals on alienated land by undertaking a special drive together with land acquisition. The Plan must also contain a programme for development of alternate fuel, fodder and non-timber forest produce resources on non-forest lands within a period of five years sufficient to meet the requirements of tribal communities as well as the Scheduled Castes.
· One-third to be paid up-front: In case of land being acquired from members of the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, at least one-third of the compensation amount due shall be paid to the affected families at the outset as first instalment and the rest shall precede the taking over of the possession of the land.
· Resettlement in the same Scheduled Area: The Scheduled Tribes affected families shall be resettled preferable in the same Scheduled Area in a compact block so that they can retain their ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity.
· Land for Community: The resettlement areas predominantly inhabited by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall get land, to such extent as may be decided by the appropriate Government free of cost for community and social gatherings.
· Alienation Of Tribal Lands To Be Void: Any alienation of tribal lands or lands belonging to members of the Scheduled Castes in disregard of the laws and regulations for the time being in force shall be treated as null and void: and in the case of acquisition of such lands, the rehabilitation and resettlement benefits shall be available to the original tribal land owners or land owners belonging to the Scheduled Castes.
· Fishing Rights: The affected Scheduled Tribes, other traditional forest dwellers and the Scheduled Castes families having fishing rights in a river or pond or dam in the affected area shall be given fishing rights in the reservoir area of the irrigation or hydel projects.
· If Resettled Outside Scheduled Area Then Additional Benefits: Where the affected families belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are relocated outside of the district then they shall be paid an additional twenty-five per cent rehabilitation and resettlement benefits to which they are entitled in monetary terms along with a one-time entitlement of fifty thousand rupees
· Higher Land-for-Land Area for SCs/STs: In every project those losing land and belonging to the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes will be provided land equivalent to land acquired or two and a one-half acres, whichever is lower (this is higher than in the case of non-SC/ST affected families)
· Additional Amounts: In addition to a subsistence amount of rupees 3000 per month for a year (which all affected families get), the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes displaced from Scheduled Areas shall receive an amount equivalent to rupees 50,000.