NEW DELHI: Faced with stiff resistance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced that the government will not re-promulgate the controversial Ordinance on Land Acquisition which expires tomorrow and declared readiness to incorporate any suggestion in the bill on it which is pending in Rajya Sabha to benefit the farmers.
Apparently referring to the political opponents, he said lot of doubts have been created over the land bill and fear instilled among farmers even though states had suggested amendments to the Act of 2013 for the benefit of villages and villagers.
"We had promulgated an Ordinance on Land Acquisition Bill which will expire tomorrow. I have decided that it should be allowed to expire. It means restoration of the situation that prevailed before my government took over," the Prime Minister said in his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat'.
The government had issued the Ordinance thrice so far, as the Land bill could not be passed in Parliament due to stiff resistance by most of the opposition parties as well as some ruling NDA allies.
The bill, which seeks to amend the Act of 2013, is currently being scrutinised by a Joint Committee of Parliament, to which it was referred by Rajya Sabha during Budget Session in the wake of strong opposition by several parties.
The Prime Minister's announcement makes it clear that the government will try to use the legislative route to enact the law, instead of the executive mechanism.
Highly-placed sources later explained that the decision of not re-promulgating the Ordinance was taken against the backdrop of the recommendation of NITI Aayog that enacting law on land acquisition should be left to states, since the subject is on the Concurrent List of the Constitution.
The sources pointed out to PTI that the bill on land acquisition was still alive in Rajya Sabha and the government is awaiting the report of the Joint Committee of Parliament on it.
Insisting that the voice of farmers matters the most to him, the Prime Minister said, "the government has an open mind on Land Acquisition Bill, about which there is a lot of controversy. I have said it again and again that I am ready to accept any suggestion for the benefit of farmers."
Modi, during his 20-minute address, maintained that the suggestions to "improve" upon the Land Act of 2013 had come from states which wanted the law to be freed from the "clutches of bureaucracy" and ensure development of villages and welfare of farmers by providing irrigation canals, electric poles for electricity, roads, houses and help poor villagers get work.
However, after the government brought the Land bill, "a lot of misapprehensions were created, so much fear was instilled among the farmers. The farmers should neither have doubts nor any fear and I will not give any such opportunity to anybody .... Now there is no cause for any doubt and if anybody tries to create fear, you should not be scared," he said.
Modi referred to the government's decision few days back to notify rules on 13 aspects of land acquisition for the relief of farmers.
"The matter got complicated because of the controversies," he said, adding that since the Ordinance is being allowed to expire, the government notified rules for these 13 aspects which will come into effect from today to address this "incomplete work".
"We are doing this so that the farmers do not stand to lose, including financially," he said.
"I want to assure the farmers that for us, 'jai jawan, jai kisan' is not just a slogan but our 'mantra'. That is why I announced creation of a ministry for farmers' welfare during my Independence Day address," he said.
Sources said these 13 points were not new but formed part of the 2013 Act. Meant for "removal of difficulty" in land acquisition for certain government works, these could have lapsed along with the Ordinance if not notified, they explained.
With the notification of rules, farmers will get compensation for land acquired as per the existing Act of 2013, the sources said.