New Delhi — Faced with stiff opposition, the Modi government is set to move at least half-a-dozen amendments to the Land Bill in the Lok Sabha today, including the one related to restricting land for industrial corridors and putting in place a hassle-free mechanism for grievance redressal.
"Government is willing to go in for amendment in the (land) bill in the larger interest of the community and the country," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said in Lok Sabha while intervening in the debate on the bill to replace the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance.
His intervention came amid strong opposition to the bill even as Congress and some other parties demanded that it be referred to a parliamentary standing committee for threadbare scrutiny.
Meanwhile, sources in the government said at least six official amendments will be moved tomorrow for which the Lok Sabha secretariat has already been approached.
Expressing the willingness of his government to consider the 52 amendments moved by members, Naidu hoped that Rural Development Minister Birender Singh will look into the possibility of reducing the land for industrial corridors being planned to boost manufacturing sector in the country.
Naidu also suggested creating a "bank" of barren land for acquisition and said first such land should be used for setting up of industrial projects.
The government has to ensure jobs for the members of the displaced families, he said, adding "there can also be a hassle-free grievance redressal mechanism" to address problems concerning rehabilitation.
Sources said one of the official amendments could relate to restricting acquisition of land within one km of both sides of railway tracks and highways.
Another amendment could relate to doing away with moving the High Court for appeals against land acquisition. People can now approach authorities within the district first for redressal.
At present, the requirement of conducting a social impact assessment and limits on multi-cropped land may be waived by the government, for defence, rural infrastructure including electrification, affordable housing, industrial corridors, and infrastructure and social infrastructure projects.
The official amendments could do away with exemption to social infrastructure projects in PPP mode to placate the opposition and NGOs.
Naidu sought to defend the removal of the five-year cap for the completion of a project on acquired land, saying that it takes years to develop a project. "We do not want India to be a nation of incomplete projects," he said.
During the debate, many members opposed the bill with some even demanding that the government send it to the department-related standing committee. They also asked the government not to do away with the consent clause, impact assessment of acquisition and take over of irrigated land.
Toughening its stand, Congress decided to vote against the bill in Lok Sabha if government does not withdraw changes or refuses to send it to the Standing Committee.
Party President Sonia Gandhi chaired two meetings of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the party and all its 44 Lok Sabha MPs to discuss the strategy over the bill, whose 2013 version was the brainchild of party Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
BJP's alliance partner in NDA, the Shiv Sena kept the government on tenterhooks by saying it has not taken any decision on supporting the legislation or otherwise.
"We have given our suggestions to the Prime Minister in writing. We will act according to the direction of the party chief Uddhav Thackeray," party leader Sanjay Raut told PTI, indicating that the bill in its present form was not accepatable to the party.