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The panel—comprising 10 MPs from the Rajya Sabha and 20 from the Lok Sabha, and with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s S.S. Ahluwalia as its head—was formed on 13 May. Photo: Hindustan Times
The panel—comprising 10 MPs from the Rajya Sabha and 20 from the Lok Sabha, and with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s S.S. Ahluwalia as its head—was formed on 13 May. Photo: Hindustan Times

Land bill panel seeks clarity on exemptions

Opposition MPs on the panel sought clarification as they felt that ambiguity in exemptions could lead to their misuse

New Delhi: The joint parliamentary panel formed to iron out differences between the government and the opposition on the proposed land acquisition bill on Monday sought greater clarity on terms such as “national security" and “affordable housing" that had been exempted from the consent clause of the bill.

Opposition MPs on the panel sought clarification as they felt that ambiguity in exemptions could lead to their misuse.

Industrial corridors, public-private partnership projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and national security-related projects are exempted from the consent clause in the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

With the bill seeking to amend the Act failing to pass muster, an ordinance to give effect to its provisions was promulgated by the government for the third time on 30 May. The panel—comprising 10 MPs from the Rajya Sabha and 20 from the Lok Sabha, and with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s S.S. Ahluwalia as its head—was formed on 13 May. It met for the second time on Monday. The first meeting was held on 29 May. The 2015 bill was referred to the panel after the government realized it could not get it passed by the Rajya Sabha, where it is in the minority. The BJP-led government has a majority in the Lok Sabha.

On Monday, Ahluwalia informed the panel that he had sought the permission of Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan to write to state chief secretaries seeking state governments’ views on the ordinance. During the meeting, MPs from the Congress and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) slammed the government for re-promulgating the ordinance. The panel also extended the deadline for representations from the public on the bill from 8 to 15 June, said an MP who attended the meeting.

“We were informed that some 300 representations have been received so far. Of these most are opposing the amendments (proposed by the government)," said an MP who declined to be named.

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