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Parliament joint committee seeks more time to review land bill

The fate of the land bill became more uncertain on Monday as the parliamentary joint panel studying the legislation decided to seek an extension of one more week to review it.

The panel was earlier scheduled to submit its report on July 21, the first day of the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament to allow the government maximum elbow room to push the contentious bill.

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But joint committee chairman, BJP’s Surinder Singh Ahluwalia, suggested in the meeting on Monday that more time is required, signaling that the government has not been able to muster numbers to pass the legislation in the upcoming session that will last just three weeks.

The bill aims to take away the consent of the farmers in land acquisition and do away with social impact assessment.

Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh latched on to the opportunity and demanded that the panel should work till the end of the monsoon session, leaving no scope for the passage of the bill in the upcoming session.

Trinamool Congress’ Derek O’Brien went a step further, demanding that the panel tell the government to scrap the bill.

While the BJP members did not agree to this drastic step, the Congress immediately echoed similar sentiments and said that they too support the TMC’s proposal.

When Ahluwalia tried to confront Singh to say that he had earlier agreed to an extension, the Congress leader said that he found the TMC’s proposal to withdraw the bill more meaningful.

Congress’ Rajeev Satav suggested that the panel should go for study tours and even meet Anna Hazare at his village.

The government, so far, has not found a favourable response from stake-holders regarding the land bill amendments. Of the 44 entities who deposed before the panel, 42 opposed the proposed amendments.

Adding to the government’s woes, the Indian Council for Agricultural Research on Monday said that multi-crop lands should not be acquired. The NDA’s proposed bill allows the acquisition of multi-crop land.


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