Hyderabad: On Wednesday, the Telangana Legislative Assembly passed an amendment to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2013 exclusively for the State of Telangana. Amid protests from two major opposition parties Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Legislative Affairs Minister T Harish Rao moved the Bill. The minister mentioned that the Bill is applicable only for government projects and not for private ventures or Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
During the session, Leader of the Opposition for Congress K Jana Reddy argued that Assembly has no powers to amend the existing Land Acquisition Act, 2013, which was passed in Parliament. Countering his arguments, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) clarified that State government has powers to seek amendments through Article 254 of the Constitution. He also mentioned that Gujarat, Rajasthan and few other States have made amendments to this Act using same provision.
The original Land Acquisition Act, 2013 was passed in Parliament when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was at the Centre. KCR said that the new Bill, Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill (Telangana Amendment), 2016 seeks to provide liberal compensation and proper rehabilitation for the impacted families (land oustees) who will lose their land during any acquisition efforts. He also stressed that through the new Bill, land oustees can get up to 10 times more compensation than the suggested amount in the existing Act, apart from Rs 5.04 lakh that will be provided to acquire a 2 Bedroom-Hall-Kitchen (BHK) house.
In a heated debate during the session, KCR warned the Opposition parties of stern action by government if they try to impede developmental works in the State. He further stated that Mallanna Sagar is slated to finish by 2017 and the entire Northern Telangana region would get water of the Godavari river by 2018. KCR stated that people, especially farmers, losing land is painful and his government will do everything to compensate and rehabilitate them as they acquire land for power projects and irrigation works.
Among other leaders in the Opposition who spoke in the debate, T Jeevan Reddy (Congress) said there is a need for inspecting this Bill legally to ensure that proper benefits are provided to land oustees during the acquisition process. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) floor leader G Kishan Reddy suggested that the Bill should be reviewed by a Select Committee before moving it in the Assembly. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) floor leader A Revanth Reddy criticized government that they removed 2 important sections from the original Bill for this amendment. These sections state that government should not acquire lands yielding 2 or more crops each year and land acquisition can happen only after Grama Sabha approves it.
In October, KCR convened meetings with several government officials and asked them to draft legislation for land acquisition that would cater to needs of Telangana people. He insisted on providing liberal compensation for land oustees recalling the pain his own family underwent during land acquisition for Lower Manair Dam project in Karimnagar district.