The draft land acquisition bill, cleared this week by the group of ministers (GoM) concerned, will be reviewed again on the intervention of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who asked for key changes in the proposed legislation.
In a bid to give the bill a more industry-friendly face, the GoM had suggested the consent of only two-thirds of landowners be required for the state to acquire land for private industry and public-private partnerships.
But Gandhi, a strong supporter of the landmark legislation, wants the original proposal — taking the approval of 80% of landowners — to be retained.
The draft was supposed to be presented before the cabinet next week after GoM chairman and farm minister Sharad Pawar had announced on Tuesday the panel had approved it.
“The GoM will meet soon,” a member of the panel said.
Ironically, in a previous cabinet meeting, Congress ministers had raised objections to some clauses of the bill and argued they might act as a damper for industry, prompting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to refer the matter to the GoM.
Under pressure from cabinet colleagues Anand Sharma and Kamal Nath, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh proposed toning down the consent clause to 67% from 80%.
The current draft also seeks more protection for tribals, a sensitive issue in the backdrop of the Maoist insurgency. The draft said the "approval" of gram panchayats would be required to buy land in scheduled areas even as the panchayati law speaks about only consultations.