NEW DELHI: Either the Centre must evolve a consensus or give enough flexibility to the states to frame their own land laws, the participating Chief Ministers told Niti Aayog governing council meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.
Ahead of Parliament’s Monsoon session, Modi convened the governing council’s second meeting to seek the Chief Ministers’ views on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act to arrive at a consensus on the contentious land acquisition issue.
While 16 Chief Ministers attended the meeting, their non-UPA counterparts and even three NDA Chief Ministers boycotted it. Jayalalithaa (Tamil Nadu), Navin Patnaik (Odisha), Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), K Chandrasekhar Rao (Telangana), Akhilesh Yadav (Uttar Pradesh) and Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal) were among those who skipped the meeting. The two non-BJP Chief Ministers who attended the meeting -- Nitish Kumar of Bihar and Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi -- opposed changes in the 2013 UPA Bill. And Punjab’s Parkash Singh Badal said land shouldn’t be acquired without the owners’ consent.
Maintaining that the deadlock over the issue was seriously impacting rural development, including the creation of schools, hospitals, roads and irrigation projects, the Prime Minister reiterated that as far as paying enhanced compensation was concerned, there were no differences. He appealed to everyone that political considerations should not come in the way of a solution that would facilitate the development of the rural areas and prosperity for farmers. Since the matter was now before the Parliamentary Joint Committee, it would be appropriate to listen to the suggestions of states once again ahead of the upcoming Parliament session, he added.
Briefing the media on the deliberations that took place at the meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government had moved forward to change the 2013 Act after receiving feedback from the states, including those belonging to the UPA, about difficulties in its implementation.
“If the Centre fails to approve this [Bill] with consensus, then it should be left to the states. Those states which want to develop fast can suggest their own state laws and the Centre [will] approve (of) that state legislation. An overwhelming section gave this kind of suggestion,” he said.
Slamming those who boycotted the meeting, Jaitley said, “Those who chose to boycott the meeting must introspect whether not attending is in consonance with the spirit of cooperative federalism.”
Jaitley said Maharashtra was of the view that the states should also have the right to waive social impact assessment and consent clause for land acquired for public purposes.
“The Prime Minister has said that the Centre will take into account all the suggestions made by the states and it will be the government’s priority that development isn’t stalled,” Jaitley added.