Modi seeks end to deadlock on land bill, Congress skips meet  

New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the deadlock over land acquisition was seriously impacting rural development, as Congress chief ministers boycotted the Niti Aayog meeting called by him to discuss the contentious land bill.

Addressing a meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog here, Modi said political considerations should not come in the way of a solution to the imbroglio over land bill.

The meeting, days before parliament’s monsoon session opens on July 21, saw the participation of 16 chief ministers, including eight of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Congress, firmly opposed to the land acquisition bill of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, stayed away.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley later told the media that many states were keen on having their own land laws if there was a delay in building a national consensus over the contentious land bill.

In his remarks, Modi said the central and state governments must move together.

“The political deadlock over land acquisition is seriously impacting rural development, including the creation of schools, hospitals, roads and irrigation projects,” he said.

He said there was no difference between his government and states on paying enhanced compensation for acquired land.

Modi said several states had raised concerns about the land bill enacted by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2013, saying “development work was suffering” due to its provisions.

He said some chief ministers also wrote to him seeking changes in the 2013 act.

Modi told the meeting that the views of states would be kept in mind by the government.

Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh said the party’s chief ministers did not go for the NITI Aayog meeting as the Congress stance on “land bill was clear”. He said the Congress was against changes to the 2013 act.

Jaitley took a dig at Congress chief ministers.

“Those who chose to boycott must introspect whether not attending the meeting is in tune with the spirit of federalism. You can come and express alternative opinion,” he said.

“The chief ministers (at the meeting) said that either the centre must evolve a consensus or give enough flexibility to states to frame their own land law. (States) cannot wait indefinitely for a consensus.”

He said both Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal favoured the 2013 act.

Jaitley said the alternate view was that states faced hurdles in economic development due to delays in land acquisition.

“Land is needed for creating alternative employment for farmers, labourers. It is required for development, infrastructure, industry, jobs, housing,” he said.

Apart from nine Congress chief ministers, those who did not come for the meeting included West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee, Uttar Pradesh’s Akhilesh Yadav, Tamil Nadu’s J. Jayalalithaa and Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik.



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