Land is the most important natural resource upon which all human activity is based. Acquisition and requisition of property is a subject enlisted in the Concurrent list vide VII Schedule of the Constitution of India. There are a number of local and specific laws which provide for acquisition of land under them but the main law that deals with acquisition is the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The Ministry of Rural Development is the nodal ministry in the Union Government to administer the central legislation on land acquisition.
The Ministry of Urban Development is the nodal ministry which administers the Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Act, 1976 as well as the Urban Land (Ceiling & Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999. In the States, there are several Urban Development Authorities for overall development of urban estates. Also, there are various departments, which deal with matters of land acquisition, housing, infrastructure, town planning, etc., such as Department of Rural Development, Planning Department, Land Department, etc.
The Government of India recognizes the need to minimize large-scale displacement to the extent possible and where displacement is inevitable, the need to handle with utmost care and forethought issues relating to resettlement and rehabilitation of project affected families. Accordingly, the Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development has formulated a National Policy on Resettlement and Rehabilitation for Project Affected Families, 2003 which was replaced by a new National Policy on Rehabilitation and Resettlement 2007.