Select panel puts off land bill report to winter session

  • Saubhadra Chatterji & Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 11, 2015 01:08 IST

In a bid to avoid a major embarrassment to the government, chairman of the joint committee on land bill, Surinder Singh Ahluwalia, deferred finalising its report till the winter session.

The Opposition had demanded a vote on two contentious clauses at the meeting of the land bill. The BJP, sensing defeat as it had just 13 supporters to the Opposition’s 17 members in the panel, took no chance and sought time till the next session to build consensus.

The panel’s delay now puts a question mark on the fate of the prevailing land ordinance that expires on August 31. “The government will have to bring another ordinance, otherwise 13 central legislations will no longer remain excluded from the high compensation and rehabilitation package as proposed in the land law,” said a senior government official.

When the NDA first brought the ordinance to amend the land bill in December 2014, it argued that the step was necessary to keep acquisition under the 13 central laws like atomic energy act, railways act, national highways act out of the land bill’s purview. “It would be a challenge now for the BJP,” said a Congress leader.

In the meeting, the BJP and the Congress locked horns over two clauses. One, on the retrospective clause or clause 24 (2) of the bill that decides which ongoing projects will attract higher compensation. Two, clause 101 on returning land to owners if it remains unutilised for five years.

During sharp exchanges, five Congress members staged a walk-out and returned on Ahluwalia’s request.

When the clauses were put for vote, three BJP members were not present and the ruling party found only LJP and TDP members by its side. Congress got support from Trinamool, NCP, JD(U), BJD, TRS, YSR Congress, AIADMK, CPM, SP, BSP and even Shiv Sena.

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