In a setback for the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which has been attempting to make it easier for industry to acquire land but has failed to convince the Opposition, the amended legislation would be fair to farmers, the government will not repromulgate the Land Acquisition Bill. The Bill is set to lapse on August 31.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday the government was willing to make changes to the Bill and accept suggestions that were in the interests of farmers. In an address to the nation, broadcast on radio, the PM said, “I have decided that the ordinance be allowed to lapse. This means that the situation stands where it was at the time that my government came to power.”
The government’s inability to push through the contentious land legislation comes as a blow to its reform agenda and will not merely delay capacity building but could also hamstring the much-hyped smart cities programme.
However, political experts believe the government is giving up on the land Bill to instead rally support for the Goods and Services Tax (Constitutional amendment) Bill in Parliament so as to be able to meet the April 2016 deadline.
Moreover, they point out that after failing to push through the land Bill in Parliament, they may ask states to pass their own laws. With the crucial elections in Bihar coming up, the government would not want to be seen as anti-farmer; the government needs to win more state elections so as to build up strength in the Rajya Sabha where it is in a minority.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 was an effort aimed at amending the principal Act passed in 2013 during the tenure of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance). The Bill proposed to exempt five categories of projects from the requirements of social impact assessment, restrictions on acquisition of multi-cropped land and consent for private projects and public private partnerships (PPPs) projects. Under the Land Act 2013, consent of 80% of the land owners was required for private projects and 70% for those in the public private partnership(PPP) mode.