BJD blasts Land Bill in LS; gets NDA to bend backwards

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, March 9:

Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the ruling party in Odisha, today advised the Union government to “withdraw, withhold and rethink” the Land Acquisition Bill.

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Leading the charge on the Bill on behalf of his party during the debate on the issue in the Lok Sabha today, Dhenkanal MP Tathagata Satapathy came down heavily on the central government while admiring the policies of the Odisha government ruled by his party.

“The Central government keeps repeating the phrase developemnt. But I always wonder, development for whom? Is it development of Adani or Ambani? Do not become blind in your support to the super rich. Withdraw, withhold and rethink. By pushing through this ordinance into a law of this land, you are doing unthinkable damage to the people of India,” said Satapathy.

“As you know, most of our constituencies are affected by land acquisition. That is why we have taken up three points in our party’s election manifesto. 1 – Panchayats must be consulted before acquiring land. 2- Employment must be given to both girls and boys. 3- Both land users and Panchayats must be made shareholders in the company for economic or commercial activities that would follow on that land,” he added.

The BJD MP pulled up the BJP led NDA government for doing nothing in the past nine and half months towards land mapping and said that the BJP government’s slogan of development stands for corporates only.

“Don’t make such a law where the common man loses his soul – his land. BJP’s land bill is regressive,” he said and added “We need to differentiate between land required for small and large projects. BJP govt has taken no steps towards land mapping. Land required for industrial purpose must be standardised as it is done internationally. Think of the poor before voting on the land bill. Who will decide on the compensation?” he asked speaking for BJD in the lower house of the parliament.

“Our party wants equity for land owners in land bill when land is acquired for economic and commercial activity. The government needs to reintroduce consent on cases of public works, which involve commercial entities,” Satapathy later told a leading TV channel.

Later in the day, the Union government reached out to the BJD today in an effort to push through the land bill in Parliament in this session.

The Union government was ready to accept BJD’s demands for changes in the mining bill for old mines. The government may even agree to BJD’s demands on the coal bill and is studying the party’s suggestions on the land bill, if sources are to be believed.

It may be noted that getting the regional parties on board was part of the NDA’s strategy to push through the bills in the Upper House where it is in minority. In the last session, several bills, including the land bill, got blocked in the Rajya Sabha in the face of a united opposition.

The land acquisition legislation, promulgated as an ordinance by the present NDA regime, amends the existing law passed by the previous UPA government in 2013.

“Government is willing to go in for amendment in the bill in the larger interest of the community and the country,” said M Venkaiah Naidu justifying the bill in Lok Sabha while Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge made it amply clear that the Congress would brook no changes in the 2013 Act passed during the UPA regime.

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