Announcement against ordinance made during the PM’s direct address to people over radio
Speaking directly to the people India, prime minister Narendra Modi today announced that the government will not re-promulgate the land acquisition ordinance which expires tomorrow and declared readiness to accept any suggestions to benefit the farmers in the pending bill on it.
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. Land acquisition is a necessary component for fulfilling the development and job-oriented promises made by Modi and the announcement in his radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’, is a definite climb down for the government.
The government may use this land bill concession as a bargaining chip to get the GST bill (goods and services tax) passed in parliament. Bihar elections may have also dictated the government rethink on the land bill.
"I have said it earlier also. The government has an open mind on the 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 said on Sunday.
“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.
Modi, during his 20-minute address, maintained that the suggestions for “improving” upon the Land Act of 2013 had come from states who believed that for the welfare of farmers, there should be canals to bring irrigation water, electric poles for electricity, roads, houses and poor villagers should get work and “we should free this law from the clutches of the bureaucracy”. However, after the government brought the land bill, “a lot of misapprehension was created and so much of fear was instilled among the farmers. The farmers should neither have doubts nor have 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 said the government had incorporated 13 aspects of village development in the ordinance for the welfare of villages but the matter got complicated because of controversies. Now, 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,” the Prime Minister 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.
Government, in a bid to wriggle out of the contentious land ordinance, could use a clause to remove difficulty to bring 13 central acts under the ambit of land acquisition law or RFCTLARR (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act) without going in for a fresh executive order.
The union rural development ministry had issued a notification saying “as per the provisions of article 123 of the Constitution, the RFCTLARR (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2015 (5 of 2015) shall lapse on the 31st August, 2015, thereby placing the land owners at the disadvantageous position, resulting in denial of benefits of enhanced compensation and rehabilitation and resettlement to the cases of land acquisition under the 13 Acts specified in the Fourth Schedule to the RFCTLARR Act as extended to the land owners under the said ordinance. Therefore, since the central government considers it necessary to extend the benefits available to the land owners under the RFCTLARR Act to similarly placed land owners whose lands are acquired under the 13 central enactments specified in the Fourth Schedule, the government has decided to uniformly apply the beneficial provisions of Section 105 of the RFCTLARR Act relating to the determination of compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement as were made applicable to cases of land acquisition under the said enactments in the interest of the land owners”.
The 13 Central enactments in fourth schedule include the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, Atomic Energy Act, Damodar Valley Corporation Act, Indian Tramways Act, Land Acquisition (Mines) Act, Metro Railways (Construction of Works) Act, The National Highways Act, Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act, Electricity Act and Railways Act.
Modi also said the recent Gujarat violence over the quota issue had upset the entire nation and asked the people to work together to resolve all problems through development.
"The recent incidents of violence in Gujarat have upset the entire nation. Whatever happens to the land of Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the nation is shocked and pained first," he said in his radio programme.
"Peace, unity and brotherhood are the only correct way and we have to walk together on the path of development as only it is the solution of our problems," he said.
Appreciating the people of Gujarat, Modi said their cooperation helped in controlling the situation. "In a very short time, my Gujarati brothers and sisters controlled the situation. They played an active role and did not let the situation worsen and peace was restored in the state.”