The Telangana Government amended the Central Land Acquisition Act, 2013 on Wednesday. The Amendment (named the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Telangana Amend) Act 2016) was passed to enable the Government’s Mallannasagar project.
The Central Land Acquisition Act, 2013:
The original 2013 Act regulates land acquisition in India and lays down the procedure and rules for granting compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to those affected by the land acquisition. The Act has provisions to give fair compensation for people whose land has been taken away. It also brings transparency to the land acquisition process to set up factories or buildings, infrastructural projects and assures rehabilitation to those affected.
The Mallannasagar Project:
The Pranahita Chevella lift irrigation scheme is an irrigation scheme to harness the water of Pranhita tributary of Godavari river for use in Telangana. One of the components of the scheme of the construction of the Mallannasagar reservoir.
Back in May 2016, the Chandrasekhara Rao administration announced plans to acquire 16,000 acres of land for the reservoir. The land acquisition process was expected to be completed within 40 days but was prolonged due to certain clauses in the Central Land Acquisition Act, 2013.
Chief Minister Rao reiterated his resolve to build the reservoir in the Assembly. “The Telangana Government will build Mallanna project and other projects at any cost,” Rao said. The project is designed to store 51,000 million cubic feet of water and will irrigate 12 lakh acres in drought-prone districts.
Opposition to the Amendment:
However, 14 villages in the district will be submerged due to the project. And Wednesday’s Amendment has raised concerns regarding rehabilitation and reimbursement of those who will be affected by the land acquisition (by present official figures, over 20,000 acres of land will be needed for the reservoir).
These concerns evolved into protests. Activists and Opposition politicians protested the Amendment by burning its copies. They have voiced issues regarding the adverse impacts the amended Act could have on local farmers and demanded that the Government withdraw the Amendment.