NEW DELHI: Farmers who parted with their land for highway projects are to get enhanced compensation under the new land acquisition law in case they are yet to be compensated under the old legislation. The move will lead to rolling out projects worth crores of rupees embroiled in about 2,000 cases, a top official said.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had announced recently that government is mulling higher payment to farmers and is also contemplating equity for them. "The Ministry has directed NHAI, NHIDCL and others to enhance compensation to farmers as per provisions of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, (RFCTLARR Act) 2013 in cases were award was fixed as per old law but compensation has not been paid to land owners," an official told PTI.
He said the decision will also be applicable to farmers whose awards were fixed prior to January 1, 2015 but physical possession of land so acquired has not been taken. The ministry has already sought legal opinion from Additional Solicitor General of India Pinky Anand.
"The issue was referred to the Additional Solicitor General of India...it has been opined that in cases initiated under NH Act 1956 but award has not been announced by December 31, 2014, RFCTLARR Act 2013 will apply under section 24 (I)... You are therefore requested to take necessary action towards settlement of cases," the official said, quoting the letter by the ministry to its various wings.
He said the ministry earlier considered applicability of RFCTLARR Act provisions in compensation "for the purpose of settlement of the cases of acquisition of land for National Highways projects, where award of compensation had been made prior to January 1, 2015 but either the amount of compensation has not been paid to the erstwhile land owners or physical possession of the land so acquired has not been taken".
The step will pave way for not only "redressal of about 2,000 cases" pertaining to compensation but would also "expedite" highway projects, the official said. NHAI last week said it has kickstarted the work of Eastern Peripheral Expressway, which was held up due to land acquisition problems on the Palwal side after the release of enhanced compensation.
Gadkari last month said that the government is working on a plan to offer not only equity to farmers but enhanced compensation which will be four times the actual land cost. The land acquisition law of 2013 has become applicable for National Highways projects from January 2015 and there has been a large number of disputes by affected owners, who were seeking higher compensation.
The official said Section 24 (I) of the new land acquisition law makes land owners eligible for higher compensation, where land proceedings have been initiated as per the earlier provisions but majority of them have not received compensation.
However, there was some clarity needed due to which the ministry sought the legal opinion from the Additional Solicitor General of India.