- IntroducedLok SabhaDec 06, 2007Gray
- ReferredStanding CommitteeDec 07, 2007Gray
- ReportStanding CommitteeOct 21, 2008Gray
Compensation offered to those displaced by natural disasters or by the acquisition of land by the government has often been described as inadequate. In this Bill, the government has attempted to specify a process by which people can be compensated as well as minimum levels of compensation that governments should pay. Controversially however, the Bill does not require that people be actually resettled. Also many of the provisions in the bill which relate to the welfare of the displaced are optional and governments are not required to implement them.
Highlights of the Bill
- The Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007 provides for benefits and compensation to people displaced by land acquisition purchases or any other involuntary displacement. The Bill creates project-specific, state and national authorities to formulate, implement, and monitor the rehabilitation and resettlement process.
- For large scale displacement, the government shall conduct a social impact assessment. It shall appoint an Administrator for Rehabilitation and Resettlement who is responsible for formulating, executing, and monitoring the rehabilitation and resettlement plan.
- The Bill outlines minimum benefits for displaced families and the criteria for eligibility. Benefits may include land, house, monetary compensation, skills training and preference for jobs.
- The Bill establishes the post of Ombudsman to address any grievances from the rehabilitation and resettlement process. Civil courts are barred from entertaining any suits related to this matter.
Key Issues and Analysis
- Though the purpose of the Bill is to ‘provide for the rehabilitation and resettlement’ of affected persons, the Bill itself does not require that these persons be resettled.
- While the Statement of Objects and Reasons mentions minimising displacement, protecting livelihoods, and improving living standards, the language in the Bill does not make these clauses mandatory.
- The affected families eligible for benefits are identified as of the date of declaration of the affected area. This declaration is made when 400 or more families are affected en masse. It is not clear whether benefits apply in cases where fewer families are displaced.
- The National Rehabilitation Policy, 2007 requires residency for 3 years in the affected area for displacement benefits. The Bill requires 5 years.
- The Bill bars civil courts from entertaining any suits on issues under the authority of the Administrator, Commissioner, or Ombudsman. These authorities are effectively given the power of a judicial authority without judicial qualifications. There is also no mechanism for appeals.
- The Bill does not specify a clear timeframe for rehabilitation.