Panel on land bill irrelevant, we won’t join meets: Congress

Public Accounts Committee chairperson K V Thomas made the submission on behalf of Congress members including Jairam Ramesh, Digvijay Singh, P L Punia and Rajeev Satav.

Written by Shalini Nair | New Delhi | Published:December 2, 2016 2:07 am

The land acquisition amendment bill hit another roadblock Thursday with Congress members on a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) declaring they will no longer attend its proceedings. In their submission to panel chairperson Ganesh Singh (BJP), Congress members have said the panel has “lost its relevance” in the light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann Ki Baat address where he said the land acquisition ordinance will be allowed to lapse in the interest of farmers.

Public Accounts Committee chairperson K V Thomas made the submission on behalf of Congress members including Jairam Ramesh, Digvijay Singh, P L Punia and Rajeev Satav. “The Congress, which has five members in the joint parliamentary committee, has taken a stand that the committee has lost its relevance in the wake of the PM’s statement that the government will not go through with the ordinance. We have communicated to the chairperson that the matter should be left to the state governments, it is a waste of time to hold any further meetings,” said Thomas.

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Ganesh Singh, who took over as panel chairperson in July, told The Indian Express the JPC will ask the government for another extension, the eighth since it was set up in May 2015. The current term was to close with the ongoing winter session.

“We had asked all state governments for information on the status of land acquired. Eight states are yet to reply while another 12 states have sent incomplete information. We have sent remidners… The panel will now submit its report during the next session of the Parliament,” said Singh.

Although Modi announced in August 2015 that he has agreed to let the the thrice-promulgated ordinance lapse, the bill is still pending before Rajya Sabha and the JPC’s report is the government’s last-ditch attempt at getting its version passed through the legislative route.
Members had reached a consensus on all but three of the amendment clauses — involving return of unutilised land to the original owner; exclusion of the litigation period from the computation of compensation; sweeping powers given to the executive for the “removal of difficulty”.