JD(U) digs in heels, says won't support land Bill in present form

JD(U) digs in heels, says won't support land Bill in present form

Amidst efforts by the NDA government to reach out to regional parties for securing their support for the controversial land Bill, JD(U) today said that no member of the Janata Parivar would support the proposed law in its present form.

The party also questioned the government's intention behind proroguing the session of Rajya Sabha and wondered what was the "tearing hurry" for doing so.

JD(U) general secretary KC Tyagi said that the constituents of the erstwhile Janata Parivar have decided at a meeting on Friday to chalk out an agitation plan from the village-level to the national capital against the Bill, whose passage in its present form they have refused to allow.

"If need be, we will also disrupt Parliament. The plans will be announced in a couple of days," he said, adding that JD(U) will also talk to BJD and Trinamool Congress to firm up a common strategy.
Former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who is coordinating on behalf of Congress with the opposition parties on the land Bill issue, meanwhile, had a chat with Tyagi today.

In a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh delineating his party's position on the land Bill, JD(U) President Sharad Yadav has said that the party is against the amendments in the old Bill, like removing consent clause and the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) provision.

"The main thing that is happening through the recent amendments is that the clause for SIA is being completely removed. We are not in its favour," he said while noting that that the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 was passed after a thorough consideration.

In his letter, the JD(U) chief also mentioned the three- four meetings held with Ramesh on the issue.

Tyagi said that the Janata Parivar parties were open to holding discussions with the government as consultations cannot be ruled out in a democracy.

"Government should call a meeting of the opposition parties and farmers' organisations before taking any decision. Otherwise, the constituents of the Janata Parivar will oppose tooth and nail the amendments being brought by it," he said.

Tyagi said that the Janata Parivar's stand on the land Bill was finalised at a meeting chaired by Samajwadi Party Chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Friday which was attended by RJD boss Lalu Prasad, Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Questioning the government's decision to prorogue Rajya Sabha in order to repromulgate the land ordinance, Tyagi asked, "What was the tearing hurry to decide on prorogation of Rajya Sabha now. We are opposed to the manner in which the prorogation was decided by the government. What is the hurry to sell the country to the corporates?"

He also said that there will be "no compromise" on the consent clause and disapproved of the "widening of the ambit of public purpose".

"Public purpose should be clearly defined. PPP mode, industrial corridor and smart cities cannot come under public purpose," he said while alleging that Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's letter to Opposition leaders on the land Bill was full of "lies... and fabricated details".

"In his letter, Gadkari ji says that 80 per cent of land is acquired for irrigation purposes. The government has sanctioned a sum of just Rs 1,000 crore in this budget for irrigation. How much irrigation will you carry out with this miniscule fund?" Tyagi asked.

Stressing on the need for the government to involve all Opposition parties and stakeholders in the matter, he said, "First of all, we see no fault in the land Bill that was brought by the UPA in 2013. If the government is ready to bring back the same Bill, we will support it.

"Even if the government wants to make some amendments in the name of the so-called public interest, we are ready to sit with them. But the government has to involve all opposition parties as well as farmers' organisations."

Tyagi also said that "the clause to take the consent of farmers and carry out social impact survey before acquiring land should be brought back, which were removed through the Ordinance".
In the letter to the Home Minister, Sharad Yadav has made JD(U)'s position clear on six points.

"According to the earlier law, the government had to study the impact of acquiring land on the people within six months of issuing the notification for land acquisition.

"We are in favour of taking the consent of 80 per cent of farmers for acquiring land for private companies and 70 per cent of them for land acquirement under the PPP mode.

The JD(U) chief also said that the party was "not in favour of the provision for acquiring land up to one kilometre on both sides of an industrial corridor".

"The provisions to acquire land under urgency clause for defence and security purposes should be limited to that and it should not be used for other things," he added.

As to relief and rehabilitation for land loss, he said that JD(U) was for giving increased compensation and surplus land back to farmers under the law.

"We are also in favour of returning the land to farmers if it is not used for five years after acquirement. Land should not be acquired for any organisation, NGO or individual.
"I and my party are in favour of industrialisation but we do not accept it at the cost of farmers and agriculture," Sharad Yadav said in the letter.

The Budget session of Rajya Sabha was cut short yesterday with the House being prorogued to pave the way for the re-promulgation of the controversial land acquisition Ordinance.

Under the Constitution, at least one of the Houses of Parliament has to be prorogued for the government to issue an ordinance. Parliament is currently on a month-long recess after the Budget session started on February 23.

The land acquisition ordinance, which was promulgated in December last year, will lapse on April 5 as it is yet to be converted into a law by Parliament.

The Ordinance had cleared the Lok Sabha hurdled but faced stiff opposition in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks numbers.

The Bill to replace the Ordinance was passed in Lok Sabha with nine amendments and the government indicated its willingness to further amend it, but a united Opposition did not allow the government to take up the matter in Rajya Sabha. 

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