The government Tuesday decided to bring in a fresh land ordinance that will include the changes incorporated in the bill passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this month.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting as the bill, which has pitted the government against a united opposition, is pending before the Rajya Sabha and can’t be cleared before April 5, the day earlier ordinance lapses.
“There is a proper constitutional process to be followed. We will tell you when the process is over,” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The ordinance will have to get the President’s nod to be promulgated.
On the government’s recommendation, the President had Saturday prorogued the Rajya Sabha. At least one of the Houses has to be prorogued for the government to issue an ordinance, an emergency provision to enact a law. Parliament is on a month-long break from the budget session.
The opposition, which outnumbers the ruling coalition in the Rajya Sabha, has dubbed as anti-farmer the bill that aims to make land acquisition easy for industry.
Seeking to reach out to farmers and eastern states, the government decided to revive the Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh) and Barauni (Bihar) fertilizer units lying defunct since 2004.
These plants would provide urea to eastern India and also generate employment. The two states are also due for polls — Bihar later this year and Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
The BJP emerged as a dominant player in these states in the Lok Sabha election and would like to repeat the performance even as it faces a challenge from regional players.
But for a small unit in Namrup in Assam, a government release said, there was no urea-producing unit in eastern India. Urea brought in from central and west India and imported from Western ports is costly.
The government also announced gas pooling for the urea sector to provide a composite price for domestically produced gas and the more expensive imported LNG.
“This is a historic moment for farmers,” Prasad said as he announced the decision.
There was more for east India. A Rs 10,000-crore gas pipeline from Haldia in West Bengal to Jagdishpur in Uttar Pradesh would provide piped gas to Kolkata, Patna and Kashi (Varanasi), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency.
Bengal holds state elections in 2016 and the BJP fancies its chances in a state where it has been a marginal player.