The government is unlikely to make any change in the controversial land ordinance while bringing a bill to replace it with an Act of Parliament during the Budget session, despite widespread protests by opposition parties and farmers’ groups.
The draft of the new land bill to replace the December 29 ordinance contains all the changes brought in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, introduced by the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government in 2013.
There is also little likelihood of the government holding consultations with NGOs and farmers’ organisations on the new bill before Parliament takes a view on the issue.
“The bill is in toto of what the ordinance was. What is there to talk now when the ordinance is already in place and there is no intention to bring changes in the ordinance,” highly-placed sources in the Rural Development Ministry said.
The assertion assumes significance as the government is bringing the new bill to replace the land ordinance amid stiff opposition from non-NDA parties in Parliament and outside, where even some NGOs and social activists have decided to launch agitations against the move.
About 5,000 farmers from across the country have begun a march from Palwal in Haryana and will reach Jantar Mantar in the national capital in the next four days to hold a protest.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who had earlier pushed for the land act in 2013, will also address a dharna at Jantar Mantar on February 25. Congress leader and former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh too will address a farmers’ meet in Chauroli village of Gautambudh Nagar in UP on Sunday.
Noted social activist Anna Hazare, along with members of several farmers’ organisations, is scheduled to hold a two-day protest against the ordinance at Jantar Mantar. The Aam Aadmi Party has also expressed willingness to join Hazare’s protest beginning Monday, if the social activist wants it to do so.
The Ministry sources said the government was of the view that changes in the Land Acquisition Act were necessary as it suffered from several flaws and a number of states including those ruled by Congress had complained that land acquisition was not possible under the existing law.
In December last, the government had promulgated the ordinance making significant changes in the Land Act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas— industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence. PTI AMR