New Delhi: The Union Cabinet, in its meeting later this week, is expected to discuss a new ordinance to replace the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which would incorporate the nine amendments that were cleared by the Lok Sabha earlier this month. The fresh ordinance will replace the old one, which lapses on April 5.
But uncertainty prevails as to whether any more change could be considered in the new ordinance. A section within the government backs retaining a diluted version of the consent clause for sectors in which it has been done away with. Rural Development Minister Birender Singh said in Chandigarh last week the government might bring in some more changes in the ordinance, which could include the consent clause strictly for landowners.
However, others feel whatever changes have been made so far — the nine government-sponsored amendments — were good enough and no more alterations were required. One of the amendments is limiting land to be acquired for industrial corridors without consent to one km on either side of highways and railway lines and guaranteeing a job to a member each of the affected families.
On Monday, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari once again criticised the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for indulging in politics over the land Bill.
Gadkari, in a reply to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, said the 2013 Act hindered acquiring of even a hectare for small development projects like schools, hospitals and irrigation projects. He said lack of development hampered job creation and farmers were forced to commit suicide.
The BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) national executive, which will meet on April 3-4 in Bengaluru, is also expected to discuss the land Act and how the amendments have made it “more farmer-friendly” than the old UPA Act.
The coming around of the crucial non-BJP and non-Congress parties, such as the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), has also come as a shot in the arm for those within the government who are opposed to further changes.
Smaller parties such as the Biju Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party have indicated they might also support the government. Their support could help the government ensure passage of the land Bill in the Rajya Sabha where it is in a minority.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam told the Assembly that his party had supported the Narendra Modi government’s land Bill only after the amendments suggested by it against land acquisition for private hospitals and colleges were accepted by the Union government.
In its latest issue, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh mouthpiece Panchjanya backed the Centre’s efforts to amend the 2013 Act to bring development to villages.
The Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha, however, will be null and void once the new ordinance is re-promulgated. The government on Saturday prorogued, that is its ongoing session called to an end, to facilitate issuing of the ordinance.