Consensus eludes land Bill,next all-party meet on April 18https://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/consensus-eludes-land-bill-next-allparty-meet-on-april-18/

Consensus eludes land Bill,next all-party meet on April 18

The ministry will study the suggestions and prepare its response for the next meeting.

There was no consensus on the contentious Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill at an all-party meet on Tuesday,even as political parties expressed willingness to get it passed in Parliament at the earliest and agreed to meet again on April 18 to iron out differences.

Political parties have decided to send in their written suggestions and comments on the Bill to the Rural Development Ministry by April 15. The ministry will study the suggestions and prepare its response for the next meeting. The BJP,CPM and AIADMK are learnt to have sent in their comments to the ministry. The next meeting is scheduled to be an all-day discussion.

Meanwhile,in what can be construed as some progress for the Bill that has been hanging fire since its introduction in Parliament last September,it was broadly agreed to not send it back to a Standing or Select Committee. “Everyone wanted the Bill to be passed at the earliest,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said. He was hopeful the Bill would be passed in the second half of the Budget session.

“There were two options. One was to send the Bill to the Standing Committee,the other was to settle the issues in an all-party meeting. Given the pressing time-frame,we have suggested that everyone send in their written suggestions and the government gives its response…We will hold a day-long meeting on April 18 after which,based on consensus,the government can bring in official amendments after studying the amendments suggested by various parties,” Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said,adding that the BJP has submitted a 12-point list of its concerns.

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Sources said it was Swaraj who suggested the middle path of parties sending in their comments in writing,instead of sending the Bill back to a Parliamentary Committee.

The BJP has recommended leasing the land to developer by arriving at a lease agreement with the farmer,instead of acquiring the land. Swaraj said it was a “better proposition”,because this way the land could remain with the farmer,providing him with regular annual income. The BJP has objected to the “very wide” definition of the term ‘public purpose’. Swaraj said she was hopeful the Bill will be passed soon.

While,the SP objected to the poor rate of compensation,the CPM is learnt to have stuck to its demand of sending the Bill to a Standing or Select Committee.