Haryana’s land acquisition policy in the spotlight

Chandigarh, Aug 30 (Calcutta Tube) From Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, everyone is talking about it. Haryana’s land acquisition policy is suddenly in the spotlight over three years after it was notified for the benefit of farmers whose lands were being acquired by the government for development.

It is now being studied as a benchmark by the central government to have a uniform policy and rates across the country for land acquired from farmers, the backbone of India’s agrarian economy.

The reason the policy is suddenly getting all this attention is that farmers in Uttar Pradesh have been protesting for weeks, demanding higher compensation for their lands acquired to build the 165-km Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway.

The Haryana government says it is offering the ‘highest market rates in the country’ for land acquired from farmers for development projects.

‘When we brought the land acquisition policy in 2007, I had said in the assembly that this policy is so good that it will be adopted in the entire country. That has come true now,’ Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda told IANS here.

The Hooda-led Haryana government has fixed the minimum floor rates for acquisition of land ranging from Rs.8 lakh to Rs.20 lakh (Rs.2 million) per acre depending upon the area.

For the urban areas of Gurgaon, adjoining national capital New Delhi, the minimum floor rate has been fixed at Rs.20 lakh per acre, and for the rest of the national capital region (NCR), Panchkula and areas on the periphery of Chandigarh, it is Rs.16 lakh per acre. In the rest of the state, the rate is Rs.8 lakh per acre.

That is not all. Farmers in Haryana get an annuity for 33 years over and above the land compensation. The annuity has been fixed at Rs.15,000 per acre per year, with an increase of Rs.500 per acre every year, for 33 years.

And there’s more. Haryana government agencies – Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) – offer residential and commercial plots through direct allotment to farmers who have been ousted from their land due to the acquisition.

Residential plots up to the maximum size of 350 square yards and commercial booths (measuring 2.75 x 2.75 metres) are allotted to land owners for re-employment and livelihood.

Hooda pointed out that after the policy was implemented, farmers have got a compensation of over Rs.8,586 crore and nearly Rs.45 crore as annuity for land acquired for developing various urban and industrial estates in the state.

The chief minister said that the acquisition policy was brought in to save the interests of farmers in Haryana, primarily an agrarian state.

While the department of urban estates, which has acquired over 16,362 acres of land since 2005, has paid compensation of over Rs.4,173 crore, the department of industries has paid Rs.4,413 crore to farmers. The HSIIDC has acquired over 13,394 acres of land so far.

In case of land acquired by the state government for private developers, the oustees are entitled to receive an annuity of Rs.30,000 per acre per annum for 33 years with an annual increase of Rs.1,000 per acre.

Land in the state, especially in the NCR region and its surrounding areas, is considered prime for industrial, commercial and even residential purposes. Haryana has developed industrial and residential infrastructure at several places, including Gurgaon, Manesar, Kundli, Bawal, Rohtak, Faridabad and Panchkula.

Thousands of Uttar Pradesh farmers brought their protest to New Delhi last week, leading to huge traffic snarls in the heart of the national capital. The protesting farmers were given a revised offer of Rs.570 per sq metre for their land but those affected are demanding a rate of Rs.850 per sq metre.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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