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Joint Par panel on land bill granted 6th extension


New Delhi : The Joint Committee of Parliament examining the contentious land bill was today granted a sixth extension of its term for over four months on grounds that several states are yet to furnish details to it on a clause relating to compensation.

Panel chairman S S Ahluwalia (BJP) moved a motion in the Lok Sabha to grant time to the committee till the first week of the Monsoon Session, which was passed by a voice vote. Normally, the Monsoon Session begins in July end.

“That this House do extend time for presentation of the Report of the Joint Committee on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 upto the last day of the first week of the Monsoon Session, 2016,” the resolution read.

At its meeting on Monday, the panel had decided to seek a fresh extension as members noted that several states have not furnished details on the status of land acquisition proceedings that have lapsed or may lapse in terms of Section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.

The land acquisition law of 2013 had become applicable for national highway projects from January 2015 and there has been a large number of disputes by affected owners, who were seeking higher compensation.

Section 24(I) of the new land acquisition law makes land owners eligible for higher compensation, where land proceedings have been initiated as per the earlier provisions, but majority of them have not received compensation.

The term of the committee came to an end today, the last day of the first part of the Budget Session. The last extension Ahluwalia had sought was on December 23 last.

Earlier, its term was extended on November 30 by the Lok Sabha till the last day of the Winter Session.

When the committee’s term was extended on November 30, members from the Opposition, especially Congress, had contended that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi had himself said that government will not repromulgate the land ordinance, which was based on the bill being examined by the Committee, there was no point in extending its term.

The ordinance had lapsed on August 31 last year after the government decided against issuing it for the fourth time.

In a recent meeting of the panel, Opposition members had demanded calling Modi as a witness, an idea opposed by the ruling BJP and ally Shiv Sena. Ahluwalia has been striving to submit a unanimous report.

Giving up the ordinance route, the government had on August 28 last issued a ‘statutory order’ to include 13 central acts like National Highway and Railways acts to extend benefits to those whose land is acquired under land law.

The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 had exempted 13 acts from its purview with the condition that they would be brought within the ambit of the act within one year.

The NDA’s ordinance in December 2014 had brought these 13 acts under the new land bill.

At the same time, it also made significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act 2013 including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas — industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.

Facing stiff protests from Opposition as well as allies, the NDA government decided not to press with the Ordinance for the fourth time and BJP members in the parliamentary panel moved amendments seeking to restore the clauses of the earlier bill.

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