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Land acquisition, R&R Bills lapse

Sreelatha Menon  |  New Delhi 

Two Bills that would have empowered industry to buy land from farmers with government help lapsed in Parliament yesterday — the last day of the 14th Lok Sabha, whose tenure was marred by some violent disputes over acquisition of land for industry.

The Act Amendment Bill and the Relief & Rehabilitation Bill — which would have allowed industry to acquire 70 per cent of the land needed directly from the farmers and get the rest with the help of the government — lapsed as the Rajya Sabha failed to pass these.

The combined strength of the BJP and the CPI(M) thwarted the Bills in the Rajya Sabha. The Bills, initially introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 7, 2007, and sent to a parliamentary standing committee, came unstuck mainly on the issue of the definition of public purpose.

The Bills were also opposed for the clause that only those farmers who sold their land to the government would be rehabilitated. The CPI(M) and the BJP stressed the point that they had earlier raised in the standing committee — that a partnership between industry and government could not be fair to the farmers.

CPI(M) MP Hannan Mollah, who was a part of the standing committee, which gave a series of recommendations, said the Bills, in their present form, would have been anti-farmer. According to him, when the government offers to buy 30 per cent of the land needed for a project on behalf of industry, the farmer is under pressure to sell to industry or take the price the government offers. “So he (the farmer) is left with little choice,” says Mollah.

Both Bills moved from the standing committee to a Group of Ministers and were passed in the Lok Sabha on February 25. Yesterday, when the Bills were sought to be introduced, the CPI(M) members insisted that only the Bills listed by the Business Advisory Committee of the Rajya Sabha be introduced, said a Rajya Sabha MP. The two Bills were not listed as the agenda was prepared when these had not been passed in the Lok Sabha, said Rajya Sabha members.

“The two have lapsed and justifiably so,” said CPI(M) MP, Prasanta Chatterji.

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