Land ordinance promulgated a second time

Belligerent BJP says it will start a campaign across the country to remove ‘mis-conception’ around land acquisition bill

By Jitendra
Last Updated: Tuesday 07 July 2015

Increasing land conflicts had forced Congress-led UPA government to replace colonial land acquisition law with a new law in 2013 (Photo by Sayantan Bera)

The Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government on Friday re-promulgated the land acquisition ordinance just a day before it lapsed.

The move was necessitated by the fact that though the government had passed the Right to Fair compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2015, (LARR) in Lok sabha during budget session, it was not able to get it push it through Rajya Sabha where the Bharatiya Janata Party is in minority.

President Pranab Mukherjee signed the ordinance. With this, government aims to ease the process of land acquisition by private parties as well as for government projects for industrial development.

The earlier ordinance was issued just before new year. For the land acquisition amendments to remain effective, LARR Bill needed to be passed by both houses of Parliament. 

The ordinance and the amendment bill replacing it dilute the provisions of land acquisition Act passed by the previous Congress-headed UPA government in 2013 in the wake of increasing land conflicts and violent protests.  At that time, BJP which leads NDA and was in opposition, had supported the Act and also promised to make it more people- and farmer-friendly once it come to power. Instead of keeping its promise, NDA is doing away with important provisions in the land acquisition law relating to obtaining consent of project-affected people and the mandatory social impact assessment (SIA). If the amendment comes into effect, public-private partnership projects, including private health and educational institutions, defence manufacturing projects, land purchase for affordable housing projects, industrial corridors and rural infrastructure will not require consent from land owners/farmers; SIA will also not be mandatory.

Union rural development minister, Choudhary Birendra Singh, told media that the government will reach out to small parties to get the law with the proposed nine amendments passed.
It is being said that the party has taken a decision to start a campaign to do away “misconceptions” surrounding the bill in its ongoing national executive meeting at Bengaluru.

Earlier, senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari wrote a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, challenging her to a debate on the bill.

Senior Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh, said the amendment bill will not be passed as Congress along with other parties will oppose it tooth and nail as many times as it would come before Rajya Sabha. He said the bill is anti-farmers and helps corporate grab land from farmers.

Ramesh, who was addressing press conference after re-promulgation of the ordinance, said that Congress party is opposing the changes brought by NDA government—doing away with consent clause and the retrospective clause of payment to farmers who didn’t accept the payment as per 1894 Act. The retrospective clause empowers land owners to get back land if it is not to be utilised in five years from date of acquisition and says acquisition process will have to start afresh.

According to Ramesh, these changes will empower government to acquire one km of land around Industrial corridors without SIA.

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