Abstract: The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RFCTLARR) Act, 2013, has made social impact assessment (SIA) the cornerstone of the new regime that seeks to establish a participative, informed, and transparent process of land acquisition for industrial and infrastructure development in India. This article examines the cogency of the approach and methodology of social impact assessment studies to gauge the extent of compliance with the substantive and procedural requirements of law with respect to impact identification, public consultation, and web reporting. The review of 12 SIA reports, drawn from a wide spectrum of infrastructural sectors across the country, reveal varying degrees of compliance with The RFCTLARR Act, 2013, and The RFCTLARR (Social Impact Assessment and Consent) Rules, 2014. The indifferent quality of certain SIA reports point towards a capacity deficit of SIA agencies and insufficient oversight by state SIA Units, while the low level of web disclosure of SIA reports by governments of states and Union Territories may be a derivative of bureaucratic inertia or a deliberate effort to preclude public scrutiny of land acquisition processes. This article recommends capacity building of various stakeholders and closer vigil by judiciary, civil society, researchers and the media for better compliance of the law.
Keywords: The RFCTLARR Act, 2013, The RFCTLARR (Social Impact Assessment and Consent) Rules, 2014, Social impact assessment, SIA reports, Participatory approach, Public hearing, Public disclosure, SIA agency, SIA approach, SIA methodology, Appropriate government, Review of SIA reports