President Pranab Mukherjee has assented to the re-promulgation of the Land Ordinance, which will come into effect from April 5.

The President’s nod for the controversial Ordinance comes at a time when the Opposition is gearing up to intensify protests against the law.

This Ordinance is being issued in lieu of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015, and will replace the previous Ordinance issued in December.

Constitutionally, an Ordinance is required to be replaced by a law passed by Parliament in the very next session. Though the Land Bill did sail through the Lok Sabha, it failed to get passed in the Rajya Sabha during first half of the Budget session, as the Government does not have a majority in the Upper House.

This was also one of the rare occasions, when one of the houses of Parliament was prorogued to pave the way for re-promulgation of an Ordinance.

Now, the Centre will have to replace the Ordinance by a Law of Parliament when the Rajya Sabha assembles again later this month to complete the Budget exercise. If the Centre again fails to get the Bill passed in the Upper House, it can re-promulgate the Ordinance again as there is no cap on number of times an Ordinance can be issued.

The new Ordinance comes with the nine amendments incorporated in the Bill when it was passed in Lok Sabha last month.

The amendments include removal of social infrastructure from the five categories exempted earlier (defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure & social infrastructure, including Public-Private-Partnership projects where the Government owns the land). It means the consent clause and social impact assessment will not be required for the above categories excepting social infrastructure. Industrial corridors have also been defined. These are those set up by the Government/Government undertakings, up to 1 km on either side of the road/railway of the corridor. Earlier there was no such clarification.

Another significant amendment is about dropping an earlier proposal of the Government acquiring land for private hospitals and private educational institutions.

Mandatory employment The Centre has also made it mandatory to provide employment to “one member of such affected family of farm labour”. This did not exist in the previous Ordinance. However, the Law enacted by the previous Government had a provision to provide the option of employment to one member of an affected family as part of the Rehabilitation & Resettlement (R&R) award.

Talking about the urgency of re-promulgation, Government sources said that this was done to ensure a higher R&R package for farmers whose land was acquired under 13 laws (such as the National Highways Act, 1956, and the Railways Act, 1989) on or after January 1, 2015.