Rly minister skips meeting on Land Acquisition Bill

Didi seeks changes in the draft

The meeting, convened at Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s residence in the national capital, was supposed to have attended by Rural Development Minister C P Joshi besides Banerjee.

However, Banerjee skipped the meeting and Joshi was present there. Sources close to her told Deccan Herald that at the time of the meeting, Banerjee was at her residence, which is close to Mukherjee’s house. When asked about the development, Joshi said: “The finance minister had asked some queries about the bill and I have explained about it.”
The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill 2007, approved by the Union Cabinet long ago, is yet to be tabled in Parliament as Banerjee is opposed to some of its provisions.  
The railway minister is against a major provision in the bill through which private developers can acquire 70 per cent of the land for a proposed industrial project directly from land owners. The remaining 30 per cent has to be acquired by the state government.

Banerjee wants to amend  this provision so that the entire land could be acquired by industries directly from farmers. However, the Centre wants  state governments to play at least a minimum role in the process.

Banerjee, who was in the forefront of agitations in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal on the same issue, had strongly demanded penal provisions to check the use of money and muscle power by private developers while acquiring land from farmers.

Another bone of contention was with regard to the issue of  compensation to land owners which is calculated according to its price after five years from the day of acquisition. She also wants the word “public purpose” in the draft bill to be defined properly to prevent its misuse by industries.

According to sources, with West Bengal Assembly election falling next year, Banerjee does not want to send any wrong signal to her voters by approving the bill, dubbed by its critics as “anti-farmer”.

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