NDA climbdown on land bill doesn’t amuse Opposition

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 10, 2015 01:16 IST

The government on Monday offered to scrap a provision to acquire land for social infrastructure and put a cap on acquisition for industrial projects as part of a compromise to win parliamentary approval for its controversial land ordinance.

Determined to shed the perceived anti-farmer tag attached to the proposed legislation, the government may also make acquisition of multi-crop agricultural land a “last option” only when barren, government, community or single-crop land is not available. The UPA’s law had a similar provision.

To appease the Opposition, the government may provide for returning 20% of developed land to a land owner and giving employment to every eligible member of a land-owning family for projects on their land. The UPA’s law provides for a job for one person in project-affected families.

“Without industry and business, the country cannot survive. At the same time, the government will not allow any legislation against farmers,” parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu said during a debate in parliament on the land bill.

He said a hassle-free mechansim for redressal of grievances of land losers and mandatory employment for people who lost their livelihood because of land acquisition would also be considered.

As the government readies to accommodate suggestions from state governments and political parties, the Congress, Trinamool and Left parties are still opposed to the bill and may try to refer it to a standing committee or a select committee of parliament.

“There is a fundamental redesigning of the land bill. We want nothing but the original law. We want kanoon-wapsi,” said senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

The Lok Sabha is slated to pass the land bill on Tuesday with amendments to dilute some of the provisions of the ordinance. But the Opposition may create hurdles in the Rajya Sabha.

Sources suggested the government may also offer partial restoration of the contentious consent clause for acquisition for private projects to appease the Opposition.

In the Lok Sabha, Naidu also read out suggestions of many state governments asking the Centre to do away with the controversial social impact assessment and consent clause.

“If you want to construct dam or irrigation projects for farmers, you need land. Fifteen people cannot stall projects beneficial to 1,500 people,” Naidu added.

The Congress’ main objection to the land ordinance is that the new law has removed the clauses for mandatory consent for farmers in land acquisition and the Social Impact Assessment.

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