After land bill fracas, govt keen to push coal, mines bills

After land bill fracas, govt keen to push coal, mines bills

Aware that most Opposition parties still have reservations against the contentious land acquisition bill despite nine amendments in the Lok Sabha, the government is focused on pushing through key economic reform legislation relating to coal and mines after getting reports from two different select committees on Wednesday.

The Budget Session concludes on Friday unless the government decides to extend it, which it is not averse to given the mood to convert the two bills on coal auctioning and mines and minerals into laws.

The auctioning process in these two sectors has already been rolled out by the ministries through ordinances.

The two bills were referred to two different select committees by the Rajya Sabha with the  assurance that the parliamentary panels will table their reports on Wednesday. This means the government will have just two days for debate and passage of the bills in Parliament.

The Congress has filed detailed written submissions before mining panel pointing out shortcomings in the legislation. The two committees are sitting for hours daily to meet the deadline. A senior minister said Opposition parties have given “gentlemen’s commitment” that the select committees will table their reports in a week’s time. The Modi government’s floor managers do not want the two bills to suffer collateral damage in its bid to bring back the land bill in Rajya Sabha after it was passed by the Lok Sabha with nine amendments.

The government wants to have another round of discussion with Opposition parties on The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Bill, 2015, before moving it in Rajya Sabha.

The Centre, said sources, was prepared even if they are pushed against the wall. One such situation is the government having to re-promulgate the ordinance on land bill with the nine amendments if they fail to take it to its logical conclusion this session. 

They said there are enough precedents, mostly from the UPA’s decade-long rule, of promulgating fresh ordinance after Parliament is prorogued, denoting end of a session. Parliament, however, is scheduled to meet again after a month-long recess to complete the rest of the Budget Session.

At least on 13 occasions in the past, Houses were prorogued for the benefit of the government, a minister said.

On Tuesday, leaders of 10 political parties, including the Left, JD(U), TMC, SP, BSP, RJD and JD(S), will take out a protest march against the land bill and submit a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee.

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