Millennium Post

No headway on land bill, parties will meet again on 18 April

An all-party meeting to iron out differences on the contentious land acquisition bill on Tuesday failed to make much headway amid divergent views, though the parties did express willingness to get the measure passed in Parliament at the earliest.

It was decided to hold a fresh round of consultations on 18 April to sort out differences.

‘There were two options. One was to send the bill to the Standing Committee. The other was to settle the issues in all-party meeting.... We will hold a day-long meeting on 18 April where government will bring its official amendments after studying the amendments suggested by various parties,’ Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said after the meeting.

Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh was hopeful that the bill will be passed in the Budget session.

‘There is a little progress. I hope that the bill will be passed in this session,’ he said.

Swaraj said the BJP on Tuesday submitted 12 points of concern.

She said the government has deleted the term SEZ and replaced it with ‘manufacturing zones’ in the bill. ‘It is the same thing...,’ she said.

BJP suggested that instead of acquisition, the land could be leased to the developer as it was a ‘better proposition’ because the land will remain with the farmer and would provide him with regular annual income.

‘If the land is not utilised for the purpose for which it was leased, it could be returned to the farmer,’ Swaraj said.

She said another issue to which BJP objected was the ‘very wide’ definition of the term ‘public purpose’.

In reply to a poser, Swaraj said she was ‘hopeful’ that the bill will be passed soon.

During the meeting, Samajwadi Party’s Rewati Raman Singh objected to the poor rate of compensation and suggested jobs for young members of the farmers’ families which give out their land.

‘The compensation amount will be exhausted. Job is what they require besides compensation,’ he said. He also pointed out that 27 per cent of the cultivable land has so far been acquired for SEZs.

‘At this rate, we will have food shortage. There will be food security crisis. Only barren and uncultivated land should be given out,’ Singh said, adding that if SP’s concerns are addressed, the party would like the measure to be passed at the earliest.

At the meeting, the government asked the parties to submit the suggestions regarding the bill by 15 April 15. The Rural Development Ministry would study the suggestions and get back to them before the consultations on 18 April.

So far, BJP, CPI(M) and AIADMK have given their suggestions, officials said.
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