India – Land Acquisition by the Government

The Land Acquisition Act provides for acquisition of privately owned land by the Central and State Governments for public purposes. However, Governments acquire land for private companies, calling it public purpose. They acquire more than required area of land for current use and also for future use. The compensation being paid is much less than current market value. In order to induce landowners to come forward to sell land the price has to be what it would be 5 or 10 years later in the market. In Malaysia, the government used to pay large compensation and people used to compete to sell their land and become “instant millionaires”. In fact, the Malaysian government asks companies to procure land themselves.

Government has recently acquired/ is acquiring land for widening national highways. They are acquiring land not only for the present use for 4 lanes but for future use of  6-8 lanes which may be after 20 or 25 years later. Till then surplus land will remain fallow.

Even for welfare measures like free or subsidized housing for low income people, some governments are using as much as 10 acres of land for 100 small houses whereas 3-4 acres will be sufficient. Government can do with about 2 acres if double storey houses are built in stead of single story houses

The land acquisition has shrunk agricultural land considerably and the country would have to depend on imports for consumption. Not only this. The farmers are agitating against land acquisitions even for genuine purposes for government’s direct use. In order to avoid problems for acquisition in future, it would be better, if governments acquire land only for government’s current use at an estimated value 10 years later.

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