MP: Cannot support land bill in its current form, says Jairam Ramesh
Former union minister Jairam Ramesh said in Indore on Saturday that the Congress would support the Land Acquisition Bill in the Rajya Sabha if the Narendra Modi-led government was willing to amend 'five basic contentious clauses' in the bill.indore Updated: May 10, 2015 15:43 IST
Former union minister Jairam Ramesh said in Indore on Saturday that the Congress would support the Land Acquisition Bill in the Rajya Sabha if the Narendra Modi-led government was willing to amend 'five basic contentious clauses' in the bill.
"(The) Congress is not against development or industrialisation, but the bill cannot be adopted in present form," the senior Congress leader said.
"Through (the) recently made changes in the bill, the Modi-led BJP government at the Centre has only weakened the Land Acquisition Bill to benefit industrialists."
Talking to reporters at a press conference in Indore on Saturday, Ramesh said that the amendments compromised the Consent and the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) clauses.
"It (the amendment) is against the interests of the farmers, land owners and goes against the democratic principles."
"The land bill passed in 2013 (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (LARR Act) or Land Acquisition Act, 2013 was a well-drafted one, and was passed with (the) consent of all political parties including (the) BJP," he said.
He added that not a single project had been tested on ground after the passage of the 2013 Act, then how the government thought that the changes were necessary.
Ramesh also addressed the summer lecture series of Abhyas Mandal. Speaking on the occasion, he said: "In a democratic country important acts are not amended through ordinances. In last one year 52 ordinances were placed of which only five were referred to standing committees, which reflects the intentions of the government," he said.
The comments of the senior Congress leader comes at a time when the Centre is all set to give a final push to the controversial bill by bringing it to the lower house in the last two days of the current session.
The land acquisition amendment bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha in the Budget Session, where the BJP has a majority, but got stuck in the Rajya Sabha.
The contentious clauses
Consent clause: The LARR Act 2013 mandates approval of at least 70% of land owners for PPP projects and 80% for private entities. These provisions have been relaxed in the amendment.
SEIA: The amendment intends to do away with social and environment impact assessment clause, which was mandatory in LARR Act 2013.
Return of unutilised land: Earlier Act mandated to return the land to owner if unutilised in five years’ time; the amendment did not set any time limit for land return policy.
Industrial corridor: Changes brought by the BJP reads the land surrounding one kilometre on both the sides of the industrial corridor can be acquired. Ramesh allegedthat this has been done tobenefit industrialists andreal estate.
1984 Land Act: There is no provision for increase in compensation for the owners whose lands were acquired under 1984 act.
Accuses Lok Sabha speaker of bias
Jairam Ramesh alleged that the Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan of bias.
He said, "Mahajan did not allow anyone to speak about Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the House. The moment anybody stands up to talk about the prime minister, the speaker silences them and doesn’t allow them to speak.”
Although the post of the speaker is above any political affiliations, the present speaker is biased in her actions, he added.