Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced that the controversial land acquisition ordinance would be allowed to lapse on Monday.
This was viewed as an attempt to blunt the “anti-farmer” tag the Opposition has been politically cashing in on ahead of the Bihar Assembly polls.
In the absence of the ordinance re-promulgated thrice with some amendments that hit the Opposition wall, the UPA-drafted Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 will become effective.
Opposition leaders hailed the rollback announcement as a victory at the JD(U)-RJD-Congress coalition’s Swabhiman rally in Patna on Sunday.
Modi, however, on his Mann Ki Baat radio programme defended his government’s proposal to amend certain provisions of the 2013 Act.
“I decide that (the land acquisition) ordinance we issued should be allowed to lapse on August 31 because I noted misinformation (about the changes) was spread to such an extent that it created fear and confusion in the minds of our farmers. The voice of farmers is the most important to me. Now, there is neither any need to be scared nor should anybody try to scare (farmers). There is no confusion now,” he said.
Though the ordinance is lapsing, 13 of its points, meant to provide direct financial benefit to farmers, are being brought under the rules effective from Sunday so farmers do not face financial loss, said Modi.
The 2013 Act required the government to equate its provisions for compensation and package with other 13 laws, including those meant for mining and railways, within a year of it coming to force so people losing their land for development projects under these laws also get compensation and rehabilitation packages assured under the Act.
“To me, every voice in my country is important but the voice of farmers is most important. There is controversy over the land acquisition bill, but the government’s mind is open to this issue. I have said time and again I am ready to accept any suggestion that is in farmers' interest,” said Modi.
The suggestions for the act’s amendment, he argued, came from states as all of them felt welfare measures had to be taken for betterment of farmers and villages, like canals to bring irrigation water, electric poles for electricity, roads and houses.