PM agrees to changes sought by Shivraj Singh Chouhan in land Bill

Amendments to a Bill are normally approved by Cabinet,PM has directly used his powers.

Written by Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi | Published: September 4, 2013 2:05 am

In what seems to be a case of the government going out of its way to accommodate the Opposition’s concerns,sources say Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has given his assent to the three amendments to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition,Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill,2012 demanded by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,after the Bill was passed by Lok Sabha last week and a day before it is brought before Rajya Sabha.

While amendments to a Bill are normally approved by the Cabinet,the PM has directly used his powers to approve the changes in this case.

According to sources,Chouhan had demanded three more amendments to the contentious Bill,which the government accepted. They include exempting irrigation projects from the retrospective clause as well as from the mandatory Social Impact Assessment process and also removing the clause which says in case of land acquired for irrigation projects,affected families will be given both compensation and land in lieu of land acquired. Chouhan is learnt to have emphasised the non-feasibility of the ‘land for land’ clause. These amendments come after the government had already accepted two key amendments proposed by Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj,following which the BJP had agreed to support the proposed legislation.

The fresh amendments will now have to be put to vote in Lok Sabha again. The Bill will be taken up by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

While the government has made a special effort to accommodate Chouhan’s concerns,Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s suggestions on another crucial legislation — the National Food Security Act — had gone unheeded. Modi had pointed towards several deficiencies in the legislation,before it was brought to Parliament,and had also suggested convening a meeting of chief ministers to discuss the contours of the Bill. He had later expressed regret,during internal discussions,that the party had failed to leave any imprint on the Bill.

Chouhan,who is learnt to have spoken to Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on the issue,also met the BJP’s top leadership in Delhi on Sunday. A delegation from the state had also met Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath to push for the changes.

Shivraj’s demands

* Exemption of irrigation projects from the retrospective clause as well as from the mandatory Social Impact Assessment process

* Deletion of the clause which says in case of land acquired for irrigation projects,affected families will be given both compensation and land in lieu of land acquired.

* Emphasis on the non-feasibility of the ‘land for land’ clause.

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