Land acquisition Bill to be ‘verbatim’ ordinance

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Land and Mines Bills slated to be introduced on Feb 24

Despite protests building up against the land acquisition Bill, it is likely to include the land ordinance’s provisions ‘verbatim’. However, some changes could be brought in during the Centre’s reply after discussion on the Bill, which is scheduled to be introduced on Tuesday in the Lok Sabha.

“The Prime Minister has made it clear that it [the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill 2015] should be exactly the same as the ordinance. The Bill has been drafted accordingly,” said a senior government official, who did not want to be identified. Technically, there is no restriction on adding new provisions in the Bill apart from those mentioned in the ordinance.

The land ordinance is one of the six ordinances issued after the end of Winter Session of Parliament (November 24-December 23). Under the Constitution, the President is empowered to promulgate an ordinance when both Houses of Parliament are not in session. Such an ordinance has the same force and effect as an Act of Parliament, but every such ordinance has to be laid before each House and ceases to operate six weeks after the reassembly of Parliament. This means, the land ordinance needs to be converted into law by March 20.

Fast-track projects

Highlighting problems in the Land Act as enacted by the previous UPA government, the Narendra Modi government decide to use an ordinance to fast-track projects in key sectors such as power, roads, defence and housing. The Centre feels that the amendments will strengthen the provisions to protect the interests of ‘affected families’ and reduce procedural difficulties in acquiring land required for ‘development’.

The Bill is being introduced at a time when veteran activist Anna Hazare has announced a two-day dharna in Delhi (February 23-24) to protest against changes to the Land Acquisition Act. The Congress and Left parties are also protesting the Bill.

There were expectations earlier that the Centre will bring in some changes to tone down opposition to it, but they look unlikely now. However, the Centre has one more opportunity to make changes — during the Government’s reply on the discussion.

Mines Bill

The Centre is also scheduled to introduce the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 to replace an ordinance. The number of mining leases granted in the country has fallen and second and subsequent lease renewals have been affected by court judgments. All this has resulted in the mining sector’s output falling, leading to imports.

Published on February 22, 2015

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