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Land Acquisition (amendment) Bill to come up in monsoon session
May, 13th 2011

The Centre today said the Land Acquisition (amendment) Bill would be introduced in Parliament in the monsoon session. The introduction of the Bill was stalled for almost two years due to political differences within the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Home minister P Chidambaram, in his first press conference as the head of the new group of ministers on media, claimed a consensus was now reached on the issue. Consensus building took some time. Now, we are at a point where there is a fair degree of certainty about a consensus on the law, with some amendments, he said.

Railway minister Mamata Banerjee had vehemently opposed the Bill which, along with the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, seeks to give better compensation packages to farmers selling their land. According to Congress sources, she had asked senior UPA leaders not to proceed with the Bill till the elections in West Bengal were over. With the poll results expected to be declared on Friday, the UPA is confident the Trinamool bottleneck would now be history.

While no details about the proposed clauses in the Bill were given, Chidambaram said some amendments had been accommodated in the original Bill.

Agitations in Uttar Pradesh may have hastened the announcement on the introduction of the Bill. However, the Congress is also worried about land protests in other areas, including Congress-ruled Jaitapur in Maharashtra.

Chidambaram said the government cannot rule out the possibility of promulgating an ordinance to enforce the new law in the wake of the violence in Uttar Pradesh. Sources in the Congress, however, said there was a remote possibility of bringing the proposed law under the ordinance route, as it was too sensitive an issue to be passed in a hurry.

The Haryana government had formulated some packages for farmers of the state regarding land acquisition. If the Uttar Pradesh government wants, it can always evolve similar packages. It doesnt need to wait for a central law, Chidambaram said.

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