BHOOMI RASHI PORTAL
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has recently launched the BhoomiRashi portal.
In the past years, acquisition of land for the purpose of National Highway projects, payment of compensation to the land owners etc were done manually by physical movement of documents in the form of files.
However, in that procedure some constraints viz. delay in issuing notification, errors in the land/area details etc were being faced. In order to overcome these issues, to cut short delays and avoid parking of public funds with the Competent Authority for Land Acquisition (CALA), Ministry has developed a web based Utility –BhoomiRashi to fully digitize and automate the entire process of land acquisition.
With the operation of this Portal, the land acquisition process has been expedited significantly, become error-free and more transparent and the notifications at every stage are being processed on real time basis.
- While the physical processing of the cases usually took considerable time, ranging from weeks to even months, and there were errors whose rectification caused further delays, the processing time using this portal has been reduced to less than two weeks in a majority of cases and even a few days in some cases.
The Utility has been made more user friendly by adding the feature of SMS services to the beneficiaries so as to enhance timeliness in dissemination of information, along with transparency, and also achieve the objective of real time tracking of activities and generation of reports, relating to land acquisition.
Amendment to LARR Act 2013
LARR Act of 2013 was basically passed to overcome the old and archaic rules imposed by the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. The original act had the provision for a minimum of consent of 80% of the people and conduction of SIA, after which the process of acquisition was to commence.
But the amendments proposed by the incumbent govt., seek to remove these provisions, so as to make way for faster development, which only means building more infrastructure, with little space for human resource development.
Such methods to accelerate growth can be detrimental in the long run, as they do not take the will of the people in concern. Although the compensation provided has not changed, money is not everything when it comes to the emotional and spiritual attachment of locals with the land.
Such an act can be termed as unconstitutional, as it curtails the freedom of the people to express their will. Also, it makes no exception for the land, which may have religious importance for the locals.
The solution here, can be to remove the red tape phenomenon, where a single case takes years to be cleared by a dept. The land acquisitions can be studied by a case to case basis and the SIA can be skipped where the land has no agricultural or intellectual value.
Development & Land Acquisition
For the last decade or two, land acquisition has been the biggest irritant for any developmental or industrial projects. The intensity of problem is reflected from following:
- Arcerol Mittal and POSCO withdrew their multibillion dollar steel project last year
- Resistance by local people and tribal following government suppression has prevented land acquisition like Niyamgiri hills of Odisha
- About 1300 PPP projects worth 7 lakh crore is pending and land is one of the reason for this
In some places environmental concerns raised by environmentalists and civil society has dissuaded people from giving away their land. Although there are other issues like delay in clearances, economic climate, high interest rate and NPA condition of banks which is preventing players especially private ones to go ahead with investment.
But the issue with land is a problem of government’s own making, because:
- Until recently land were taken forcefully with paltry or no compensation
- No consent of broad consultation before taking land
- No participation in decision making in rehabilitation plan or future development on their land and fair benefit sharing
- Government sitting on huge amount of unused barren land, fallow land and government land but not effectively using them.
Although land acquisition act of 2013 took adequate care of “affected people”, the resulting high cost and delay in acquisition send a negative signal to industry. Some innovative ways likeland bank, efficient use of barren and government land, leasing out land instead of selling them would be the way forward without compromising the interest of affected people.
Union govt. proposal to amend the existing land acquisition bill with amendments for reviving investments in infrastructure and industry has gathered controversies. Govt. is of the opinion that due to improper acquisition procedure, many public and private project have been either stalled or not started at all.