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Another push to land acquisition bill, govt may extend Lok Sabha session

Having failed to get it cleared by Rajya Sabha despite a nod from Lok Sabha in the first half of the Budget Session, the government is all set to make another attempt to get the controversial land acquisition amendment bill passed by Parliament by bringing it to the Lower House in the last two days of the current session. The government is also exploring the idea of extending the Lok Sabha session till May 13.

According to Parliament sources, the Business Advisory Committee (BAC) on Wednesday decided to bring the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015 to the Lok Sabha in the next two days. In addition, six more Bills including bill on land agreement with Bangladesh are likely to be taken up in Lok Sabha — three of these will be introduced after having been cleared by the Rajya Sabha, sources said.

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The Land Acquisition Bill was cleared by the Lok Sabha on March 10 during the first half of the Budget Session. However, it could not be introduced in the Rajya Sabha following sustained resistance from the Opposition.

Since the land acquisition Ordinance promulgated by the Narendra Modi government on December 31, 2014, would have lapsed on April 5 and with no possibility of it getting cleared by the Parliament before that day as the House was in recess, the government got the Ordinance repromulgated.

All the nine official amendments that had been incorporated when the land bill was passed by Lok Sabha were also brought in the new Ordinance. Asked when the government is bringing the land bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said: “Wait for the suspense.”

Passage of the bill has become a prestige issue for the BJP-led government despite vehement protests from the Opposition, rights groups, affiliated groups of Sangh Parivar and some of its allies. The Opposition, which is in a majority in the Rajya Sabha, has rallied behind the Congress, saying the proposed legislation was anti-farmer and it cannot be passed in its present form. However, when the government discussed its agenda in the last BAC meeting, the land bill was not included.

BJP sources said the government would engage some smaller parties in talks and could suggest referring the bill to a joint committee in order to evolve consensus on it.

Meanwhile, government sources indicated that the Budget session could be extended if the legislative business in its agenda is not completed.

“We have quite a few important bills coming from Rajya Sabha to Lok Sabha. If needed, the Lok Sabha may get extended till May 13,” said a minister.

He said the Cabinet committee on parliamentary affairs would meet on Thursday to take a call on it, although some opposition parties, including Congress, are not in favour of prolonging the session.


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