Laws that govern land acquisition can lock in old paradigms. We study one such case: the Coal Bearing Areas Act of 1957 (CBAA) which unlike the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR) provides minimal social and environmental safeguards. The lack of due diligence processes in the CBAA confers an undue comparative advantage to coal development, a facet of policy that is at odds with India’s current stance to phasedown coal use, reduce air pollution, and advance modern, low-carbon energy to achieve net-zero emissions. In the decades since the CBAA was written, the local context has significantly changed: the environmental and social costs of dirty energy are clearer, and low-carbon alternatives are cost competitive. We recommend updating land acquisition laws to bring coal under the general purview of LARR or, at minimum, amending CBAA to ensure adequate environmental and social safeguards are in place, both in letter and practice.
Srivastav, S. & Singh, T. (2022). 'Greening our Laws: Revising Land Acquisition Law for Coal Mining in India'. INET Oxford Working Paper No. 2022-09.