NEW DELHI: Even as members of the Opposition and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party slug it out over the Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament, the Chinese believe that is precisely the problem with India – “too much democracy.”
During a visit to Xi’an in Shanxi province in China last week, ET learnt how the country developed its Land Use Rights System and overcame issues such as acquisition of property, especially from farmers, to continue with its rapid growth. “There are deadlines given to the farmers. If they do not give their consent by then, the State is authorised to acquire that land,” Wang Menghao, Project Manager of Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) of Xi’an Hi-tech Industries Development Zone (XHTZ) told ET.
According to him, India faces this problem and is unable to get the law on land acquisition in place because it follows the democratic system. This was also the general view of other officials and experts in China.
“It is natural that people will not like to part with their land happily. In China, the land belongs to the state and people do not have an option beyond a point. The state can take back its land at any time. In India, it gets complicated because of the system and processes,” Menghao said.
Displaced farmers are offered alternative plots in lieu of the land acquired by the government. “The compensation could also include money and jobs,” he added. Spread over 307 square km, the XHTZ was established in 1991 as one of the earliest Chinese science parks at the national level.
Regarded as one of the most successful of the 114 national high-tech zones in the country, an economic zone within this was approved in 2009. This is where China wants to develop a software city like Bengaluru. XHTZ officials said there were bound to be some protests when people are asked to move out of an area where they have lived for years.
“When land has to be acquired by the government, an information sign is generally put up in the village as an announcement.
Villagers are then required to complain within a week if they have a problem. If they do not come forward to complain, it is assumed they have agreed to the land transfer,” explained an official.
As in India, farmers in China don’t deal with investors directly. The land is first acquired by the state for “public interest” and then sold to the developer or investor. There was no social impact assessment, either. Manghao said the state takes care of displaced farmers and communities. He said many of them are offered jobs in the industries that came up on the land.
“The government offers education and training to the people so that they can either work there or get a job somewhere else and be self-sufficient,” he explained.
In addition, there are provisions for skilling and micro-finance to encourage displaced people to set up their own small-scale industrial units, he said.