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HindustanTimes Wed,24 Sep 2014

Wary of opposition, govt may not push land bill changes

Brajesh Kumar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 11, 2014
First Published: 00:16 IST(11/8/2014) | Last Updated: 00:20 IST(11/8/2014)

Sensing trouble ahead, the government may hold back amendments to the land acquisition law, sources in the rural development ministry have indicated.

The wariness apparently stems from the recent Opposition heat it has faced in Parliament on key legislations such as the insurance bill.

While the land bill changes — seeking to dilute some contentious clauses believed to be anti-industry — is a priority for the Modi government, it also doesn’t want to come across as anti-farmer.

The government, after consultations with states, had made up its mind to scrap the mandatory consent for public-private partnership projects and reduce it to 50% from the existing 80% for private industries. But with the Congress making it clear it would oppose such changes, the Centre is now learnt to be in favour of further deliberations.

“The government does not want the opposition to portray it as anti-farmer. Diluting the consent clause as planned now runs that risk,” a government official said.

Rural development minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday held a meeting with ministry officials to explore amendments more palatable to the opposition.

Other proposed amendments likely to hit the opposition wall include lifting a ban on acquisition of multi-crop land and doing away with the social impact assessment for all projects.

The consensus on the amendments was reached after Gadkari met state revenue ministers last month and promised to act on their suggestions to bring in the changes in the law urgently.

Congress’s new found aggression, however, seems to have changed the government’s mind.

The party off late has successfully pushed the government to the wall on a number of issues including the Insurance bill, and the UPSC-CSAT issue and has indicated it will not let the government amend the land acquisition law.

Other parties like the CPI (M), CPI, JD(U), DMK and Trinamool may join hands with the Congress and force a debate in the Parliament.


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