Government hints at fresh ordinance over land acquisition

Hyderabad, March 23:

With the land acquisition ordinance lapsing on April 6 and Parliament re-convening only on April 20, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Monday hinted at issuing a fresh ordinance.

Venkaiah Naidu
Venkaiah Naidu

He told reporters here that there are provisions available in the Constitution and the precedents set by the previous government.

“Options and strategies are not revealed but you know better than us,” he said. The minister specifically referred to a remark by Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad in Parliament that the government can re-issue the ordinance.

“He has given some ideas. Let us see precedents set by previous government,” Naidu said.

The Lok Sabha on March 11 passed the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

The bill will now go to the Rajya Sabha, where the opposition has the majority. It is likely to be tabled in the upper House in the second half of Parliament’s budget session, begining on April 20.

He said the government was aware of the fact that the ordinance, if not converted into a legislation by April 6, would lapse. “Government is keeping this in mind and will take appropriate action,” he remarked without elaborating.

Naidu referred to various options before the government, including the joint session of Parliament’s two houses to pass the bill, if it is defeated in the Rajya Sabha.

“As per the Constitution, the government can issue an ordinance and if it lapses it can issue another ordinance. It can call joint session to pass (the bill) if it is rejected there (Rajya Sabha). Some parties may change their stand. The government may also bring some amendments if there are good suggestions,” he said.

The minister said the government has an open mind as the country needs the land acquisition bill for development.

He said the government was ready for a nation-wide debate on the land acquisition bill and to make improvements if the opposition makes constructive suggestions.

Claiming that the bill is pro-farmer and pro-poor, he appealed to all political parties to support the bill as it will accelerate the growth and make farmers part of the developmental process.

“We are open. Let there be a national debate on the basis of merit. Let it be constructive rather than blindly opposing the bill for the sake of opposition,” he said at a news conference here.

Stating that nine amendments were already made in the bill during the course of discussion in Lok Sabha, Naidu said Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured on Sunday that if something is lacking in the bill, improvements can be made.

Naidu said if the states had any objections in implementing the new legislation, they can stick to the previous Act.

The minister reiterated that the government brought the ordinance after wider consultation with 32 states and union territories. He pointed out that senior Congress leaders, including former commerce minister Anand Sharma, had written to the prime minister for a new legislation.

“Farmers cannot be denied fruits of development forever. Their future has to be taken care and that is why the government after wider consultations and feedback from the field brought the ordinance,” he said. IANS

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