Govt's showpiece land bill to be delayed | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Govt's showpiece land bill to be delayed

delhi Updated: Dec 12, 2011 02:22 IST
Prasad Nichenametla
Prasad Nichenametla
Hindustan Times
Rahul Gandhi

A piece of legislation that the Congress wants to highlight as party general secretary Rahul Gandhi's success in resolving the explosive land acquisition issue is getting delayed over "contentious provisions".

The central government, led by the Congress, introduced the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, in the monsoon session of Parliament and planned to enact it by early next year - in the run-up to elections in Uttar Pradesh, where the Congress has been out of power for 22 years.

UP, where Gandhi is spearheading the party campaign, has seen violent agitations against land acquisition, such as the one in Bhatta-Parsaul.

The parliamentary standing committee scrutinising the bill has now asked for an extension of three months. The committee was supposed to submit its report by December 15.

Committee chairman Sumitra Mahajan, a BJP member, said the panel received more than 300 representations from farmers, builders and industry bodies.

While state governments have to be consulted, several central ministries that deal with land acquisition - such as railways, highways and urban development - have expressed their reservations.

"Arriving at a collective view on the numerous clauses takes time. We would try to submit our report by February - in time for the budget session," Mahajan told Hindustan Times.

She hinted at major changes in the bill, which proposed the consent of 80% of project-affected people for land acquisition.

The bill also proposed four times the registered value of land as compensation, apart from a resettlement package, in

rural areas. Industry, by and large, disapproved of the conditions.

Sensing the delay, rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who had introduced the bill in Parliament, had written to Mahajan, requesting her to expedite the process. But Mahajan remained unmoved.

Ramesh had said, "Credit should go to Rahul (Gandhi), who provided the guiding principles ... He also pushed forward the bill, taking up the issue with the prime minister."