Your land acquired? Then suffer!

Your land acquired? Then suffer!
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Your land acquired? Then suffer. The whole country is suffering from the problems of land acquisition. Lajinder Singh is an example of the victims of lethargic attitude of government.

The whole country is suffering from the problems of land acquisition. Lajinder Singh is an example of the victims of lethargic attitude of government. The Central Information Commission has found three departments highly non-responsive. They should have human concern for these victims. Singh claimed he is the second generation in the family fighting for compensation after his father died waiting for it, and none of the three departments had given a proper response to his queries. This is a serious irresponsibility of the authority. There are several RTI applications from the poor land owners whose lands were acquired around 1977-78. Only instrument through which this can be questioned is, surprisingly, the RTI

Land owners should be called land losers, after the State has acquired their land. They will be then understanding what babus’ (bureaucrats) terrorism is. We do not know where there is governance or not. But good governance is totally missing.

Most unfortunately the citizen is harassed and tortured by the most irresponsible staff members in government offices. It is difficult for any citizen to escape this harassment. In this set-up, a citizen cannot live without having some or other dependence on these non-responsive and irresponsible government officers. The harassment continues forever and ever.

Only instrument through which this can be questioned is, surprisingly, the RTI. The governments both at Center and in the States should realise this and provide relief to the citizens from this torture. I came across such a story of terrible harassment, when I was hearing the second appeal of a 77-year-old senior citizen Lajinder Singh, seeking the promise made 37 years ago to be realised.

The appellant sought information regarding the acquisition of land in village Khirki near Delhi. He wanted copy of the record for taking over of the physical possession of land, acquired date-wise, khasra no. with area and the name of those involved in this exercise with the designation etc. At two levels of RTI machinery, the authorities were satisfied with what they gave, but not the appellant.

His land of 18 bigas was acquired in 1978. Neither he nor his father got any compensation for the said land. On 30.09.2014, he applied for the information to the respondent office i.e., LAC, DDA and L&B departments – i.e., he filed his RTI application before three authorities. During May 2015 I directed the PIOs of these three departments to coordinate and provide information.

His application was transferred to LAC and DDA after two months. The First Appellate Authority directed the authority to provide copies of the reference letter written by DDA to Land and Building Department, if traceable. Such an order does not serve any purpose. This order is subject to traceability of file and it exempts the authority if file is not traceable, which is totally against law.

The Government of India framed a scheme Large Scale Acquisition, Development and Disposal of Land in Delhi, 1961. The scheme of allotment of alternative plots acquired a statutory character under the provisions of the Delhi Development Act, 1957 (DD Act) read with the Delhi Development Authority (Disposal of Nazul Land) Rules, 1981 (Nazul Rules).

The lands acquired by the Central Government and placed at the disposal of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Respondent No. 3 herein, for development fell under the category of Nazul lands within the meaning of Section 21 of the DD Act. The elements of the 1961 Scheme were engrafted into the Nazul Rules. The categories mentioned in Clause 8 of the 1961 Scheme were expanded under Rule 4 of the Nazul Rules.

Subsequently in 1986 the Scheme underwent changes. The task of identifying plots for allotment was entrusted to the DDA although the clearance of an application for an alternative plot was the task of the Land and Buildings Department (L & B) of the Delhi Administration (subsequently the Government of the NCT of Delhi).

A Delhi High Court Full Bench said: “We find that an individual whose land has been acquired for planned development of Delhi has no absolute right to allotment, but, he is eligible to be considered for allotment of an alternative plot for residential purposes; and that the DDA may allot Nazul land to such an individual, in conformity with the plans and subject to other provisions of the Nazul Rules.”

I have asked the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Land and Building Department and Land Acquisition Collectors to provide information on compensation. It was "pathetic" to note that Singh, 77, has to fight for compensation since 1978 against lethargic authorities.

The whole country is suffering from the problems of land acquisition, and Lajinder Singh is an example of the victims of lethargic attitude of government. The Central Information Commission also finds these three departments highly non-responsive. They should have human concern for these victims.

Lajinder Singh claimed he was the second generation in the family fighting for compensation after his father died waiting for it, and none of the three departments had given a proper response to his queries. This is a serious irresponsibility of the authority. I saw several RTI applications from the poor land owners whose lands were acquired around 1977-78.

Three departments – DDA, LAC and L&B – are playing ping pong with the applicants. These three offices conveniently said the question does not pertain to them; they either transferred it to the other department or did not do anything. These three public authorities are harassing the land owners. It is pathetic to note that Lajinder Singh, 77, has been fighting for his land since 1978.

His father died without receiving compensation and he is fighting as the second generation against the officer representing the lethargic government to get compensation. The whole country is suffering from the problem of land acquisition. The three departments did not coordinate with each other and the PIOs were not consulting with each other. They simply passed on the buck to other public authorities.

The LAC said the land acquired in 1987-88 was handed over to the Land and Building Department which in turn handed it over to the DDA, which must have notified the payment of award and sent the money to the Land and Building Department. Being a very old case, the relevant notification must be available with the DDA only.

As soon as the Land and Building Department transfers the amount to the LAC, they will immediately pay the award money to the appellant. That ‘soon’ is still delayed. None knows when he will be given an alternative plot. All the owners of land waiting for compensation of alternatives should learn from this experience.

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