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Not Just A Coal Block

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The Hasdeo Arand forests spanning north Chhattisgarh’s Korba and Surguja districts comprise some of central India’s best contiguous tracts of forests, and are home to perennial water sources, rare plants as well as wildlife species, including elephants and leopards.

But this rich eco-system is also under threat because of the vast coal reserves it holds – the Hasdeo Arand Coalfield mapped by the Ministry of Coal has over a billion metric tonnes of proven coal reserves, across an area of 1878 square kilometres. 1502 square kilometres of this consist of forests.

The threat is accentuated with the central government’s swift moves in past weeks to hasten coal mining and acquisition of rural land from individuals and communities by corporations.

After its controversial coal mining bill was not passed in Parliament by the Rajya Sabha, the government re-issued an ordinance on 24 December 2014  to auction lands and forests across over 90 coal blocks (or mines), and to permit the commercial mining of coal. Read more

Courtesy: PARI News

Government acquiring land for ‘public purpose’ to include private hospitals and institutions

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NEW DELHI: In a major boost to private players scouting for land in the country to set up hospitals and educational institutions, the government will go out and acquire land for them under the comprehensive amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 wherein it has redefined ‘public purpose’ to now include private hospitals and institutions.

The government has also done away with the time limit of five years to start construction of work on the acquired land, enabling public/private players to sit on the acquired land as per their plan through the recently promulgated ordinance issued to bring about changes in the Act.

“We have redefined ‘public purpose’ for which land will be acquired by the government to now include even private hospitals and private educational institutions because the government does not have the capacity to set up big universities, institutes and hospitals on its own,” a senior government official told ET requesting anonymity. Read more

Courtesy: The Economic Times

Villagers protest coal mines re-allotment in Chhattisgarh

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With the beginning of fresh allotment of coal blocks by the Centre, villagers of North Chhattisgarh, the area which is rich in coal reserves, have intensified their protest against the move.

As many as 17 gram sabhas, falling under Hasdeo-Arand coalfield, have passed a resolution opposing the reallotment of coal mines and have written to higher authorities seeking dialogue on the issue. “We won’t allow any mining activity in our villages and forests. Through this resolution we have urged both the Centre and state government to neither allocate coal blocks to public sector undertakings nor to private players,” Umeshwar Singh Armo, Sarpanch of Mandapur panchyat of the region, told PTI.

Hasdeo-Arand coalfield, spread over an area of 1,878 sq kms over Korba, Surguja and Surajpur districts in north Chhattisgarh, is located about 300 kms away from the state capital. Of the total area, 1,502 sq km area is under biodiversity-rich forest cover. The coalfield has total estimated reserves of 5.1709 billion tonne.

Around 30 blocks have been identified so far in the region, of which 16 were allocated to various public sector and private players but their allocations was subsequently cancelled following the Supreme Court order. Mining is operational in 3 blocks – Chotia by Prakash Industries, Parsa East and Kete Basan by a joint venture of Adani group and Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited. “Without taking consent of gram sabhas, government has once again listed coal blocks of our region for fresh auctioning and allotment. It is violation of our rights,” Armo said. Read more

Courtesy: dna

Land Acquisition Ordinance

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The Gazette of India

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2014

Has govt restored powers to acquire land under 1894 Act?

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NEW DELHI: The Union cabinet’s decision to bring a land acquisition ordinance within a year of enactment of the law raises a question whether the government has restored its powers to acquire land as enshrined in the Land Acquisition Act, 1894

The UPA government had come up with the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act from January 1, 2014 which gave district collectors the power to acquire land under emergency clause only for defence, national security and situation arising out of a disaster and that too after Parliament’s approval.

The law was opposed by most of the state governments, including Congress-ruled, on the ground that mandatory consent clause and social impact assessment (SIA) were delaying land acquisition and hampering economic growth. The states had found that their power to acquire land had been diluted under the new law.

Agreeing with the state governments, the Union cabinet on Monday exempted five broad sectors — national security/ defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and Public Private Partnership projects — from mandatory consent and SIA.

“Without having a discussion, the government has diluted the new land acquisition law and has taken it closer to the earlier law of 1894 which is very unfortunate,” said planning commission former member in-charge of rural development Mihir Shah.

Farmer groups termed the ordinance as “retrograde” saying that the land-owners will not have the right to say “no” to land acquisition even if it is being acquired for an industrial corridor or for setting up a project in a public private partnership mode.

“The ordinance will lead to forced acquisition of land as two provisions (consent clause and SIA) central to addressing the issue and resulting impoverishment to the communities has been done away with,” said a statement issued by National Alliance of People’s Movement on behalf of various civil society groups.

Courtesy: hindustantimes

“Ordinance to change Land Acquisition Act is murder of Democracy under corporate rule of Modi Government”

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Ordinance on land act unconstitutional and anti-people, people’s movements to organise against its passage in parliament, every forced acquisition on ground will face stiff resistance

A statement by National Alliance of People’s movements (NAPM) & Lok Shakti Abhiyan,

Bhubaneswar (Press Statement/30th Dec 14): Yesterday Cabinet decision approving the Ordinance amending the Land Acquisition Act 2013, even before the law has been actually implemented on the ground is completely unacceptable and reminds us of the anti-democratic and authoritarian streak of this government. In six months of its existence NDA government has already used the Ordinance route three times.

We fail to understand what the Emergency is at this moment that, NDA government has to take the Ordinance route. This is only being done as a measure to benefit the Corporate Houses and nothing else. 20 Lakh Crore investments are not stuck because of the new land act, since the law has only been in existence for one year.

The land acquisition act, 1894 was amended precisely to resolve the conflict due to forcible land acquisition, give farmers their due and meet the needs of the industrial development. Today’s decision will only increase that conflict since large scale forcible land acquisition for the industrial corridors will benorm, Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor alone has plan for acquisition of3,90,000 Hectares of land. Industrial Corridors, big infrastructure projects, dams etc cause the maximum displacement and environmental damage and the new land Act was to address situations arising out of that. Read more

Courtesy: India Resists

Modi Government Changes Land Acquisition Rules By Emergency Order

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The Narendra Modi-government today decided to ease the land acquisition process through an emergency order, in a move meant to accelerate stalled projects worth billions of dollars.

“The changes in Land Acquisition Act have been done after extensive consultations with states,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said while announcing the decision.

Jaitley said the rules will be relaxed for acquisition of land in five areas—defence purposes, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and housing projects for the poor, industrial corridors, and infrastructure or social infrastructure projects, including those in public-private projects in which ownership of land will remain with the government.

While the compensation will remain high as per the act, and rehabilitation and resettlement will be followed, the procedure for acquiring land for these projects will be easier by omitting steps like social impact assessment, impact on food security, and consent of 80 per cent land owners, he added.

NDTV reported that the governments plans to clear the ordinance by the next parliamentary session in February.

The Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which was enacted under the Manmohan Singh government, requires 70 percent of the land-owning community to give consent to allow acquisition for public-private partnership projects. Eighty percent consent is required for private sector projects.

Public-private partnership projects account for 60 percent of the stalled projects worth Rs18 lakh crore in rail, steel, mining and roads, the Business Standard Read more

Courtesy: The Huffington Post

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