Land Bill: Parliamentary panel seeks more time, legislation may miss Monsoon Session
New Delhi: Much debated and controversial land acquisition bill may not be presented in the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament as the parliamentary committee set up to examine the contentious legislation has sought an extension.
Chairman of the panel S S Ahluwalia reportedly suggested that Speaker Sumitra Mahajan be asked for an extension of the panel's tenure on the ground that it was yet to receive response of all state governments.
Congress members on the panel, which included Digvijay Singh and Jairam Ramesh, have asked for a three-week extension.
If the panel's demand is accepted and the bill is not presented in the monsoon session, it would be a setback to the government's plan. The BJP government at centre has already promulgated the Land Ordinance for the third time.
The monsoon session will be only for three weeks and with opposition looking for a battle inside the house over Lalitgate, there will be very little time left for work.
The government agreed to refer the bill to a 30-member committee after NDA allies Shiv Sena and Akali Dal had also joined the opposition in Lok Sabha in opposing it.
The Joint Committee of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha were to submit its report on the first day of Monsoon session which has already been passed by the Lower House. The government has troubles to get the upper house on board to pass the bill where it is in minority.
The parliamentary committee was conceived as a device to help the government in convening a joint sitting of the two Houses if that becomes necessary. If the opposition does not budge on the bill, it would be the only option for the government as its superior numbers in the Lok Sabha can overcome opposition's majority in the Rajya Sabha.
The 20-member panel include members from the BJP, Congress, Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam Party, AIADMK, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, Lok Janshakti Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi and YSR Congress Party. The joint committee also has 10 members from the Rajya Sabha.
Most of the people who have been called to depose before the panel have opposed the bill. 44 people have been called so far in nine meetings of the panel.
According to reports, only two have agreed with the bill and the rest have opposed it.
Members belonging to the opposition parties have demanded that the bill should be withdrawn on that basis.
Agriculture institutes and think tanks including representatives from Indian Council for Agriculture Research, GB Pant University, Punjab Agriculture University were among those who deposed before the panel. They have reportedly told the panel to
"first acquire wasteland and use cultivable land as a last resort".
GB Pant University vice-chancellor Mangala Rai told the panel that "India has 17% of the world's population, 4% of world's water resources, 11% of the world's livestock and only 2% of the world's land", arguing against reducing the land resource further.
An amendment to UPA's Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, NDA's bill has taken away the consent clause and Social Impact Assessment clause.