The first meeting of joint Committee of Parliament on the contentious land bill today saw a number of Opposition members raising questions over the rationale of the government changing provisions of the 2013 land law.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the government’s arguments in favour of the bill, the members demanded a “composite” inter-ministerial reply on the issue.
At the meeting, headed by BJP member S S Ahluwalia, the Rural Development Ministry and Legislative department in the Law Ministry made a presentation to members on the amendments made to the The Right To Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
As the officials of the two ministries explained the amendments, members from the Opposition parties including Congress, BJD, TMC and the Left raised questions over the rationale of doing away with the consent clause while acquiring land and removing necessity for a social impact assessment, sources said.
Interestingly, one BJP MP wondered whether the consent clause was removed and then questioned why was it done. The question left the other members amused as the amendments were made to the Act nearly six months ago through an ordinance in which the consent clause has been done away with.
During the presentation, some members also wanted more clarity on land acquisition for industrial corridors.
Several members demanded that since the issues involved were complex in nature, they would like to have a “composite” inter-ministry reply on the rationale behind the amendments.
The various ministries, including Rural Development and Law, are likely to furnish a joint reply early next month to the committee, the sources said.
In a bid to ensure that the committee is able to table its report on the first day of the Monsoon session, it will meet twice every week. The Monsoon session usually begins mid July.
While the 2013 law required that the consent of 80 per cent of land owners was obtained for private projects and that the consent of 70 per cent of land owners be obtained for PPP projects, the present bill exempts the five categories from this provision of the Act.
These categories include defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including public private partnership (PPP) projects where the government owns the land.
The 2013 Act also required that a social impact assessment be conducted to identify affected families and calculate the social impact when land is acquired. This provision has been done away with.