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Parliamentary panel to debate sticking points on land bill after a year

The parliamentary joint panel, which is reviewing the legislation, will meet to debate the social impact assessment, one of the biggest bones of contention between the government and the Opposition.

india Updated: May 07, 2017 20:35 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
The NDA government will not re-promulgate the proposed land ordinance, but will include 13 points to reform the land acquisition
The NDA government will not re-promulgate the proposed land ordinance, but will include 13 points to reform the land acquisition (File Photo)

After being in the cold storage for more than a year, the Narendra Modi government’s land bill is possibly coming back in the reckoning.

The parliamentary joint panel, which is reviewing the legislation, will meet to debate the social impact assessment (SIA), one of the biggest bones of contention between the government and the Opposition.

“It is very much in the agenda. The government has never decided to withdraw the bill despite the fierce criticisms against it,” said a member of the joint committee on land bill.

Read: Will allow land bill to lapse: PM Modi on Mann Ki Baat

The NDA government will not re-promulgate the proposed land ordinance, but will include 13 points to reform the land acquisition

In the UPA-era law, every acquisition, regardless of size, would go through a social impact assessment. The assessment was aimed to determine the possible impact and benefits of the acquisition not just on the land owners but other people living nearby.

The SIA forms the basis for the compensation.

After coming to power, the NDA offered exemptions to five types of projects from this social impact assessment and also virtually took away the farmer’s right to refusal to sell land for government projects.

This will be the second meeting of the land panel, headed now by BJP MP Ganesh Singh, in this year.

Ironically, both meetings have happened after the Uttar Pradesh assembly election in which the BJP swept the state and Yogi Adityanath became the chief minister.

In 2016, only two meetings were held in the entire year in a clear indication that the political leadership was not in a hurry to debate the contentious bill.

The panel has now started seeking comments from the states on the specific provision of the social impact assessment. Earlier, many states had identified the SIA as the single biggest roadblock to faster acquisition.

Read: Lok Sabha grants another extension to Committee on Land Acquisition Bill

The panel has called the Congress-ruled Karnataka government and Delhi Development Authority (DDA), controlled by the Centre, to depose on the SIA.

The UPA era bill was drastically altered in 2014, December followed by two subsequent ordinances in 2015. But as the Bihar election approached, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in the Mann ki Baat that the government will not push any more ordinances on the bill.

The UPA’s land act was seen by critics as heavily loaded in the favour of the farmers while the NDA’s proposed amendments were touted as pro-corporate. The BJP had even failed to convince its own allies and affiliated organisations like the Bhartiya Kisan Sangh and Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh.