A meeting of the parliamentary panel on the contentious land acquisition Bill on Monday lasted only half an hour, with many state governments yet to send their views on the amendments that the Centre has proposed to the 2013 Act. The joint committee would now consider the Bill clause by clause later this month.
Sangh Parivar-affiliated organisations and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allies such as the Shiromani Akali Dal, Swabhimani Paksha and Shiv Sena have been opposing the amendments.
The Congress has further queered the pitch for the Bill by suggesting an amendment to the 2013 Act passed by the UPA-2 government. The five Congress members of the panel have written to committee chairman S S Ahluwalia that compensation for urban and rural areas should be fixed at four times the highest available market value, instead of the sliding scale of the 2013 Act.
The Congress-led UPA’s 2013 Act had provided for a flexible two-four times the market rate for rural areas, depending on the distance from urban areas — the farther the land from urban areas, the greater the compensation on a multiplier ranging from one to two.
Congress MPs Digvijaya Singh, K V Thomas, P L Punia, Rajeev Satav and Jairam Ramesh submitted their suggestions on June 30. They contended that the states had applied the provision differently, and have “subverted” the intent of the 2013 Act. It alleged that the current system, as the implementation of the law had shown in the past year, is likely to be “manipulated by unscrupulous state agencies”.
They pointed out how the Maharashtra government set the multiplier at 1.1 for rural areas, with the result that land losers will get a maximum of 2.2 times the market value. This was recognised by the Bombay High Court as incorrect application of the legislative intention and set aside in March this year.
The committee was scheduled to give its report on the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament on July 21, but will now seek an extension of at least a week.
The first day of the session is likely to be adjourned after the passing away of BJP MP Dilip Singh Bhuria.