Land bill to be delayed

The Land Acquisition Bill, which has been surrounded by controversies, is set for further delay as the Cabinet is unlikely to take it up at its meeting tomorrow despite the Group of Ministers (GoM) approving it. Sources said the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011 is not on the agenda of Thursday’s Cabinet meeting even though the government intends to introduce it in Parliament in the Winter Session beginning November 22. The controversial bill was cleared by the GoM headed by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar last month and it provided for mandatory requirement of consent by two-third of the land losers before land could be acquired by the government for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects. However, apparently at the instance of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, this clause was later amended further to raise the percentage of consent to 80 per cent. Rehabilitation of people during the process of acquiring land has also been made compulsory if it is done under PPP projects. Union Rural Development Ministry, which has been pushing the Bill, is reconciled to the fact that there some differences will remain among various stake holders. “Everybody cannot be satisfied,” said a source in the ministry. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had set up the GoM in the last week of September after the Union Cabinet was sharply divided, with some ministers like Anand Sharma, Kamal Nath, C P Joshi and Veerappa Moily opposing a number of clauses fearing that these would discourage investments. The Bill was introduced in Parliament in September last year and was referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee which submitted its recommendations in May. The Bill has been hanging fire for long even though the National Advisory Council headed by Sonia Gandhi has been pushing for the law and has framed its broad contours.
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