Amendments to India’s Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday do not address key issues related to consulting communities and conducting social impact assessments, said Amnesty International India today.

“Some of the amendments passed by the Lok Sabha are progressive, but others are merely cosmetic,” said Aruna Chandrasekhar, Business and Human Rights Researcher at Amnesty International India.

“The amendments require social infrastructure projects to obtain the consent of affected communities and assess social impacts. However, many other projects continue to be exempted from assessing social impacts.

“Without a social impact assessment, rehabilitation and compensation measures are likely to be flawed and inadequate. Exempting projects from these assessments can in effect deprive communities of the opportunity to be consulted on decisions that have far-reaching social and economic impacts on them.

“Projects under 13 central Acts also remain exempted from seeking the Free Prior Informed Consent of Adivasi communities.

“While the amendments state that the government must restrict the extent of land acquired to the minimum required, this cannot be a substitute for adhering to human rights safeguards.

“The Rajya Sabha must ensure that it engages in meaningful consultations with civil society groups before amending the law, and ensure that any amendments comply with international standards.”

Under international law, India must protect people from human rights abuses by third parties, including private and state-owned companies, and prevent forced evictions. It must seek the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities in decisions that affect them.