MADHYA PRADESH: NO CASH FOR LAND
MP makes it legal to dodge cash compensation for land acquisition
Two years after the Centre backed out of efforts to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (commonly referred to as the Land Acquisition Act), the Madhya Pradesh government has amended a state law to deny cash compensation to those whose lands have been acquired for public purposes in urban areas.
The MP Town and Country Planning (TCP) Act, 1973, has been amended to bring in provisions of Transfer of Development Rights (TDR)—an incentive-based programme that allows landowners to sell development rights on their land to a developer who can then use these rights to increase density of development at other designated locations. While officials at the urban development department maintain that the amendment aims to unlock the value of land marked ‘green’ on plans (in other words, land that has restricted use), the
THE STATE IS TRYING TO AVOID PAYING CASH IN LIEU OF LAND ACQUIRED FOR CITY PROJECTS
amendment has had another impact— it denies cash compensation to those whose lands lie within the plan area acquired for public purposes. A section has been inserted that enables allotting development rights to the person whose land has been acquired. Simply put, the government says it will grant enhanced floor area ratio (FAR)—the ratio of plot area and permitted built-up area—and TDR to compensate for the loss of land.
Why does the government not want to pay cash compensation as mandated under the 2013 law? “The amendment will bring in greater development in cities through concepts such as TDR,” says state minister for urban development Maya Singh, offering no explanation for why cash compensation is being denied. Off the record, officials maintain that the state government is simply not willing to shell out huge sums of money while acquiring land for projects like road widening within city limits. “The new land acquisition act of 2013 imposes huge costs on development projects. The amendment in the TCP Act will offer other options to those whose land is acquired,” says an official at the urban development department.
How relevant concepts such as TDR are in MP towns—especially in places like Bhopal, which has developed horizontally over the decades, has large open spaces and few highrises—is another matter. What will a farmer do with enhanced FAR and transferable development rights (other than sell his land to a builder) if his land located within urban areas is acquired? Will it be fair compensation if s/he is not paid in cash?
ONE WAY Land taken over on the Bhopal- Hoshangabad road for widening