New Delhi: Faced with a stalemate on the controversial land bill, the Union Cabinet is understood to have discussed the issue today amid suggestions that the government may tweak some of its provisions to make it palatable to the Opposition.
However, there was no official confirmation regarding it. Earlier, there were indications that the government might bring some official amendments to the land bill in order to take the Opposition on board.
There was discussion regarding bringing some modifications in consent and social impact clauses, which were totally done away with in the NDA government's bill.
The discussion in the Cabinet came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his agreement with the remarks of SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav that since there is no consensus on the issue, both the government and the opposition should make some adjustments to resolve the issue.
Sources said senior ministers huddled together even after the department secretaries left after the cabinet meeting. Referring to the protracted debate over the land bill, Yadav had yesterday said in an all-party meeting that both the government and the opposition should collectively endeavour adopting a give and take approach to find a solution. Endorsing Yadav's views, the Prime Minister noted “like Ramgopalji said, we need to find solutions collectively”.
The Joint Committee of Parliament examining the land acquisition bill has been given a fresh extension till the first week of August to submit its report. This is the second extension sought by the Committee which was originally mandated to table its report today—the first day of the monsoon session.
The bill to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 has got stuck because of opposition by various parties. Congress, led by its Vice President Rahul Gandhi, has been aggressively campaigning against it.
While the 2013 law required the consent of 80 per cent of land-owners to be obtained for private projects and that of 70 per cent for PPP ones, the present bill exempts five categories from this provision—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 too has been done away with.
Out of 672 representations that the parliamentary committee received, 670 have opposed the amendments being brought by the NDA government in the land bill, particularly dropping the consent clause and social impact survey. So far, 52 representatives have also appeared before the committee.
At least three BJP allies—Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal and Swabhimani Paksha, besides a number of farmer and labour organisations attached with RSS like Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh and Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, have red-flagged a number of provisions of the proposed legislation including removal of provisions of consent clause and social impact assessment.