In a major step to reduce delay in completion of irrigation projects, the government has decided to go in for direct purchase of land instead of acquisition. A large number of irrigation projects have been delayed as farmers have refused to part with their land at government rates. This has led to huge cost overruns and consequently caused a loss of thousands of crores.
The market price of land for direct purchase will be decided by a seven member committee headed by district collector. The rate that will be offered to the farmer will be 25% more than the rate calculated by the committee.
The decision to change modus operandi for acquisition of land was changed after chief minister Devendra Fadnavis expressed alarm over inordinate delay in completion of irrigation projects in Vidarbha. This delay was depriving farmers of irrigation facilities for years and leading to agrarian distress.
The CM was told by the officials that the delay was caused due to extreme reluctance of farmers to allow acquisition of land. There was a lot of difference between the rate of compensation for land acquisition and that offered in case of direct purchase.
Fadnavis constituted a committee under additional chief secretary (finance) to find a way out. Direct purchase was suggested by this expert committee as there was nothing in the new Land Acquisition Act that prevented this method.
The government has decided to offer two options to the land owners. The first is payment of the entire sum at the time of purchase of land. The second is payment of half the sum at time of purchase and the rest as annuity.
The government has issued guidelines for irrigation officials for purchase of land. It has stressed that for new projects the entire land required for the dam site, submergence and rehabilitation area should be purchased at one go. Half the land required for main canals and their distributaries should also be purchased at one go.
In case of incomplete projects too the remaining land can be acquired through direct purchase. In this case too the entire land required for the project except canals and distributaries should be purchased at one go.
The government has asked the district collectors to get a legal search report prepared for the land to be acquired, by the district government pleader. The pleader is a member of the seven member committee.