Even as it looked set to re-promulgate the Land Acquisition Ordinance, government today insisted that it was not making it a “prestige” issue and was willing to have a discussion with opposition parties to sort out differences.
“It is not a prestige issue for us…We need to change the law of 2013 for the development of the country, especially the villages,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters here while replying to questions over the controversial Land Ordinance.
“We brought nine amendments to our original bill and are still willing to sit with opposition parties who are objecting to the bill. If they have any suggestions which would be beneficial for the country, we are ready to discuss… The opposition should give up its adamant attitude. It will be good for the country,” he added.
His comment came a day after the government decided to prorogue Rajya Sabha where the Land Acquisition Bill is stuck and re-promulgate Ordinance on the same as the earlier one lapses on April 5.
The Budget session of Parliament is currently in a month-long recess since March 20 and will re-convene on April 20. Under the Constitution, at least one of the Houses has to be prorogued for government to issue an Ordinance.
Justifying the need to amend the Land Act of 2013, Jaitley said that law is a “hindrance” in the path of development as it “does not give permission” to acquire land for key infrastructure projects like PM Gram Sadak Yojana, irrigation yojana, rural electrification, housing-for-all as well as airports and seaports.
The Finance Minister attacked Congress, alleging that its main objective is to stall National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s policies and is not concerned about the development of the country.
He also alleged that the opposition is “misleading” public on the issue.
On Jat reservation which was scrapped by Supreme Court recently, the Union Finance Minister said this matter was discussed when a delegation of Jat leaders met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi earlier this week.
The Prime Minister assured them that after a thorough consultation, a suitable way would be found out as per the law, Jaitley added.
With regard to river Ganga cleaning, Jaitley said a meeting of National Ganga River Basin Authority was chaired by the Prime Minister recently where issues related to it and maintaining theÂ flow of water was discussed.
Improving the health condition of river Ganga is a top priority of the government, he said.
Work on Ganga cleaning will soon start within 3-4 months, the Finance Minister said, adding Rs 4000 crore will be spent on it initially and in the coming five years, Rs 20,000 crore would be spent.
He said that in the MNREGA meeting, facelifting of Varanasi’s ghats was discussed and it was found that the largest industrial and domestic effluents were discharged in Ganga between Kanpur and Varanasi. Even silting was a problem for Bihar.
“These effluents will be treated on war-footing so that Ganga is saved from further pollution,” Jaitley said.
With regard to coal mines, he said a major portion of the money raised from their auction willÂ for development of those states where these mines are located.
These states, like Jharkhand, are not so much developed despite being rich in natural resources, he noted.