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TN: ‘Repeal Land Consolidation Act’ Urges AIKS, Farmers Worried About Losing Land

Sruti MD |
The new law grants extensive authority to a government-appointed expert committee in land-related matters.
TN: ‘Repeal Land Consolidation Act’ Urges AIKS, Farmers Worried About Losing Land

Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Chennai: On April 21, the last day of the Tamil Nadu Assembly session, 17 bills were passed, including the Tamil Nadu Land Consolidation (for Special Projects) Act, 2023. With significant implications, this legislation grants extensive authority to a government-appointed expert committee in land-related matters.

This legislation has the power to remove the authority of the local bodies concerning land and provide a full charge to the expert committee constituted by the state government. Before acquiring land, formalities like publishing notices, holding hearings and so on have to be followed, but the expert panel's decision will be final.

If the government is convinced that a project is important, it can declare the project as special and acquire land. The Act applies to projects requiring more than 250 acres of land.

The purpose of the law is to protect water bodies, but Tamil Nadu Vivasaya Sangam (AIKS) insists the Act will not be of use. Instead, it will remove existing legal hurdles for land acquisition in the name of industries and development projects for corporate entities.

Drawing parallels with the withdrawal of the Factories Act by the DMK government, AIKS has demanded repeal of the Land Consolidation Act.

AIKS Tamil Nadu says the Act goes against the DMK’s election promise that “the misuse of agricultural lands without the consent of farmers will be stopped.” Moreover, no other states are known to have enacted such a law.


The Act was passed through voice vote, and opposition parties in the Assembly were not given enough time to read and comment on the draft in advance, as per reports.

Before bringing a law regarding land use, the bill should be introduced in a proper manner and discussions should be held; it should not be done in a hurry,” said Samy Natarajan, AIKS Secretary, Tamil Nadu, in a press statement.

Speaking at a public event in Chennai, Rt. Justice D Hariparanthaman said, “Like the central BJP government, the Tamil Nadu government is also hastily passing laws, such as the 12-hour work-day and the land consolidation acts. Laws passed without hearing the opinions of the opposition parties are against people's interest.”

Since Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin invited international companies to come and start businesses here, the purpose of these laws is evident. The rulers have implicitly said that companies can squeeze as much labour as they want and get free land in Tamil Nadu,” he added.


Farmers are worried about the ambiguous definition of "special projects" in the newly passed Act. The state has the authority to declare any project as special. So there are concerns that land belonging to ordinary farmers can be acquired for various ongoing projects, such as Parandur Airport, SIPCOT Industrial Estate and Textile Park, and Neyveli coalmine.

There are 13 lakes in the area where the Parandur airport is proposed, and they are overflowing with water. There is heavy opposition from environmentalists, farmers and villagers against acquiring land for the project. Therefore, the Tamil Nadu government has passed this law to acquire land in an arbitrary manner, yet give the impression they are taking land legally,” said P Shanmugam in an article published in Theekkathir.

There are many laws in place to carry out land acquisition. In that context, to bring about an Act like this means that the land of poor and small-scale farmers will be snatched without any limit by the government in the name of development,” he said.

The existing laws include protection for land owners, gram sabha resolutions, and safeguarding water bodies and ecological concerns. The Land Acquisition Act, of 2013 was brought in to ensure protection, fair compensation and rehabilitation to the land owners.

Farmers are worried if water bodies are further encroached on by private individuals, water levels will deplete, and agriculture will be affected.

Although the Act states to protect water bodies, there is no mention of protecting canals, drains and catchment areas. The AIKS asks how there could be water in the water bodies if the government only protects the water storage areas and occupies the passageways. Over time, the aquifer will disappear, it notes.

In last year's UN Biodiversity Conference, countries made a deal to declare 30% of the world's land as protected areas by 2030, but the state government is not paying heed to this” noted Shanmugam.

There are encroachments in more than 37,000 small and big lakes, ponds, and waterways leading to water bodies all over Tamil Nadu. Due to this, the water bodies are unable to store additional monsoon rains, observes the AIKS.


There are already many laws for land acquisition, such as the Land Acquisition Act, 2013; Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition for Adi Dravidian Welfare Schemes Act, 1978; Tamil Nadu Land Acquisition for Industrial Purposes Act, 1997; Tamil Nadu Highways Act, 2001, and others. Kisan activists ask what is the necessity to bring a new consolidation law?”

In 1894, the Land Acquisition Act was introduced for the first time during the British rule. It gave sky-high power to the rulers; without any approval, the state could acquire land… It was in practice for about 110 years. Farmers’ continued struggle led to the passing of the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Unfortunately, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly’s recent Act is similar to the 1894 Act,” said Shanmugam.

Shanmugan added, “Public space will cease to exist if the state takes over space of the local and municipal bodies. There will be no land for public use to carry out people-led events.”

Under the Land Consolidation Act of 2023, the state government is empowered to consolidate and acquire land under various departments, including public works, irrigation, animal husbandry, revenue, local government, education, municipal administration, and medical, if deemed necessary.

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