NEW DELHI: As the Modi government tries to muster support for its contentious land bill in the Rajya Sabha, some states ruled by opposition parties have kept up suspense over their next move but Congress-ruled Arunachal Pradesh has sprung a surprise, finding fault with the 2013 law passed by the UPA dispensation.
Going against the Congress' stand, Arunachal Pradesh has described the 2013 Act as "complicated" and which required to be revisited. The Joint Committee of Parliament headed by BJP MP S S Ahluwalia looking into the vexed issue had, after its first
meeting on May 29, asked the states to submit their views on the proposed legislation in writing. The Congress-ruled states have written identical letters to the panel totally opposing the changes being brought in the 2013 land Act, but the party's government in Arunachal Pradesh said the 2013 law brought by the UPA was "too lengthy" and "complicated" as compared to the 1894 Act.
"The said Act requires to be revisited and reviewed to obviate, minimize and to reduce complications like involvement of external expert group for social impact assesssment...there is difficulty in acquiring land under the 2013 land Act," it said in a communication to the panel. It said because of difficulty in the acquisition process in 2013 Act, the state government acquired land for some projects under certain other regulations.
However, responses sent by over a dozen state governments make it clear that they are not backing the changes in the 2013 law. While the government has no hope of support from Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress, it has still not given up on parties like SP, BJD, AIADMK, NCP and a few others by bringing in some changes in the draft bill.
BJD has on a number of occasions made a common cause with other opposition parties on the joint Parliamentary panel to corner the NDA government. Party government of Odisha has, in its reply to the panel, refrained from commenting on key clauses of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment Bill, 2015).
The Naveen Patnaik government of Odisha has offered "no comments" on 14 provisions of the bill including those related to removal of consent clause and social impact assessment. It will be interesting to watch how they would respond when the bill is brought up for passage in Parliament. It has, however, sought an amendment to clause 7 of the bill seeking to make it mandatory for profit making industries to provide shares to gram panchayats and people from whom land has been acquired to provide them a steady income.
"This may be introduced as a new clause (e) in the section 31 of the proposed draft bill," the state government said. AIADMK government of Tamil Nadu has opposed provisions of the section 3 of the proposed bill on exemption from the requirement of consent for private sector and PPP projects and provisions of section 5 relating to exemption from social impact assessment (SIA).
Out of the 15 clauses of the new bill, the AIADMK government has opposed two, responded with "no comments" to five, said "may be accepted" to seven and suggested modifications to one. The Parliamentary panel is yet to get a response from Samajwadi Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh. Senior party leader Ramgopal Yadav had some time back talked of the need for some give and take from both sides--- the ruling alliance and the Opposition--to break the logjam over the issue.