Land acquisition topic is very important for almost all competitive exams of India starting from UPSC, State PSC, CPF, APFC, Bank and MBA Group Discussion / Interviews.

  1. What is Land Acquisition?
  2. How is this process governed?
  3. Land is a state subject then how can the parliament pass a law?
  4. What is the problem with land acquisition act of 1894?
  5. Why was new law required?
  6. What are the major changes being proposed?
  7. Land acquisition Bill, 2011: Salient Features
  8. Download Pro Con analysis and summery

What is Land Acquisition?

  • Land acquisition is the process by which the government forcibly acquires private property for public purpose without the consent of the land-owner.
  • It is thus different from a land purchase, in which the sale is made by a willing seller.

How is this process governed?

  • Land Acquisition is governed by the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.  The government has to follow a process of declaring the land to be acquired, notify the interested persons, and acquire the land after paying due compensation.
  • Various state legislatures have also passed Acts that detail various aspects of the acquisition process.

Land is a state subject then how can the parliament pass a law?
Though land is a state subject, “acquisition and requisitioning of property” is in the concurrent list. Both Parliament and state legislatures can make laws on this subject.
What is the problem with land acquisition act of 1894?

  • very old, ineffective, weak
  • draconian
  • delayed and no compensation
  • no livelihood provisions afterwards

Why was new law required?

  • Heightened public concern: Singur, Yamuna Express etc.
  • absence of proper rehabilitation law
  • anticorruption movement
  • public unrest at many places
  • Law and order problems: police and farmer clashes in UP

The government had introduced a Bill to amend this Act in 2007. That Bill lapsed in 2009 at the time of the general elections. The government enacted a new bill in 2011.

What are the major changes being proposed?

In 2011, the (bogus UPA) Government  made changes in 2007 Bill with regard to

  • the purpose for which land may be acquired;
  • the amount of compensation to be paid;
  • the process of acquisition;
  • use of the land acquired; and
  • dispute settlement mechanisms.

Land acquisition Bill, 2011


  • Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011 was introduced by the Minister of Rural Development.
  • The Bill proposes a unified legislation for acquisition of land and adequate rehabilitation mechanisms for all affected persons
  • replaces the Land Acquisition Act, 1894


  • provisions of this Bill shall not apply to 16 existing legislations that provide for land acquisition.  These include
  1. The Atomic Energy Act, 1962,
  2. The National Highways Act, 1956,
  3. SEZ Act, 2005,
  4. Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, 1885,
  5. The Railways Act, 1989.

Then where is it applicable?

  • provisions of the Bill shall be applicable in cases when the appropriate government acquires land,
  1. for its own use and control,
  2. to transfer it for the use of private companies for public purpose, and
  3. on the request of private companies for immediate use for public purpose

Applicable even to private companies

  • private companies shall provide for rehabilitation and resettlement if they purchase or acquire land, through private negotiations, equal to or more than 100 acres in rural areas and 50 acres in urban areas.


  • It is not clear whether Parliament has jurisdiction to impose rehabilitation and resettlement requirements on private purchase of agricultural land.
  • While private companies are included, but PSUs are excluded from the responsibility of rehabilitation.

Government can acquire land for these Public Purposes

  1. strategic defense purposes and national security,
  2. roads, railways, highways, and ports, built by government and public sector enterprises
  3. project affected people,
  4. planned development or improvement of villages.
  5. residential purposes for the poor and landless.

Public purpose includes other government projects which benefit the public as well as provision of public goods and services by private companies or public-private partnerships.


  • Land acquisition will require the consent of 80 per cent of project affected people
  • Affected families include those whose livelihood may be affected due to the acquisition, and includes landless labourers and artisans.


  • Projects involving land acquisition and undertaken by private companies or public private partnerships require the consent of 80 per cent of the people affected.  However, no such consent is required in case of PSUs.

Limits on land acquisition

  • maximum of five per cent of irrigated multi-cropped land may be acquired in a district, with certain conditions.
  • Every acquisition requires a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) by an independent body followed by a preliminary notification and a final award by the District Collector.
  • In the case of urgency, the Bill proposes that the appropriate government shall acquire the land after 30 days from the date of the issue of the notification (without SIA).
  • This clause may be used only for defence, national security, and conditions arising out of a national calamity.


  • The value of the assets (trees, plants, buildings etc) attached to the land being acquired will be added to this amount.
  • mandated the job for one person in each affected family or Rs. Two lakhs
  • separate allowance for SC,ST
  • provision for housing, if the land is acquired for housing projects


  1. The market value is based on recent reported transactions.  This value is doubled in rural areas to arrive at the compensation amount.  This method may not lead to an accurate adjustment because people sell land to each other at underreported price to save stamp duty.
  2. The government can temporarily acquire land for a maximum period of three years.  There is no provision for rehabilitation and resettlement in such cases.

Dispute resolution

  • Bill proposes the following authorities;
  1. Administrator;
  2. Commissioner for Rehabilitation and Resettlement;
  3. Rehabilitation and Resettlement Committee (for acquisition of 100 acres or more of land);
  4. National Monitoring Committee for Rehabilitation and Resettlement; and Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Authority (which shall adjudicate all disputes, with appeal to the High Court).

What if the acquired land is not used?

  • If an acquired land which is transferred to a person for a consideration, is left unutilised for a period of 10 years from the date it was acquired, it shall be returned to the Land Bank or the appropriate government.
  • in cases where the ownership of an acquired land is sold to any person, without any development made, 20 per cent of the profit made shall be shared among all the persons from whom the land was acquired.


  1. Inputs from Om Kasera (AIR 17 / CSE 2011).
  2. Rediff news report.
  3. PRS Legislative Research  (“PRS”), New Delhi