Hitting back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the land acquisition Bill, the Congress party on Sunday said the government's move to bring changes was a “smoke screen” to benefit industrialists and he was “lying” on amendments in 13 Acts.
After Modi, in his Mann ki Baat radio programme, said lies were being spread on the issue of the Bill, the opposition party said the amendments in 13 Acts were part of the mandatory provisions of the 2013 Land Acquisition Law.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh also questioned the claim that defence and security projects were being delayed due to the 2013 Act. He said it was stipulated in Section 105 (3) of the 2013 Act that amendments would have to be made within one year in the 13 laws that Modi had spoken about.
Arguing that it was a lie that UPA forgot to amend the 13 laws, he said his government could not because there was less time and elections were approaching.
"But the Act stipulated it had to be done within one year. The Modi government slept for nearly eight months and suddenly woke up to the ordinance as a smoke-screen to benefit industrialists," he said.
In his programme today, Modi said, "biggest lacuna" in the 2013 Act was that 13 aspects of government activity, like railways, national highways and mining, for which maximum land is acquired, were kept out of its ambit, meaning that compensation for acquiring land for these purposes would be paid on the basis of the 120-year-old law.
"Tell me, isn't it a lacuna? Isn't it a mistake?...We corrected this and in the new bill, these activities have been covered and as a result, four-time compensation will be given for the land acquired," he said.
Ramesh said compensation was also not a favour as the 2013 Act stipulated for four times compensation in rural area and double in urban areas.
Describing the Modi government's amendments to the 2013 Land Acquisition Law as "anti-farmers, pro-rich", Ramesh said the proposed amendments does away with social impact assessment completely.
He reminded the government that the 2013 Law was passed after two years of discussions and after many amendments including three and two by Sushma Swaraj and Ravi Shankar Prasad respectively.
"The 2013 Law already stipulates that land acquisition can take place for national security and defence projects under 'urgency clause' without going through the consent and social impact assessment procedures.
"Modi's amendments merely repeats it and uses this as a smokescreen to extend benefit to industrialists," he said.