BJP’s land bill reversal, now for consent, social impact

New Delhi, (IANS) In a major climbdown from its stated position, BJP appears to have agreed to restore key provisions of UPA’s land law including those related to consent and social impact assessment (SIA), informed sources said.

The sources said that members of ruling National Democratic Alliance moved amendments at the Monday’s meeting of the joint committee on land bill, seeking to bring back the consent clause and SIA.

The committee, headed by BJP’s S.S. Ahluwalia, has sought time till August 7 to submit its report on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment Bill), 2015.

With the Bharatiya Janata Party having seemingly changed its position on the key bill, there is a possibility of the committee giving a consensus report and the government likely to recast the legislation.

The Congress and several other opposition parties had firmly objected to changes made in the land bill passed by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2013.

There was opposition to the bill from some Sangh outfits as also farmer organisations.

The Congress mounted a high-pitched attack on the Narendra Modi government on its new bill, alleging that it had made changes to the 2013 Act to benefit a few industralists.

The National Democratic Alliance government brought ordinances but the bill has not been passed by parliament. The bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha but could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha where the government lacks majority.

BJP leaders had repeatedly said that the UPA’s land bill was against rural areas and they had made changes to the bill after suggestions from the states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also convened a meeting with states on the bill last month which was boycotted by the Congress.

The 2013 Act required that the consent of 80 percent of land owners is obtained for private projects and that the consent of 70 percent of land owners be obtained for public private partnership (PPP) projects.

The bill of the NDA government exempted five categories – defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including PPP projects where the central government owns the land – from these provisions of the act.

While the 2013 act was applicable for the acquisition of land for private companies, the new bill proposed changed this to acquisition for “private entities” or an entity ther than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non-profit organization, or other entity under any other law.

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