Almost defunct joint parliamentary panel on land acquisition set to get extension

The almost defunct Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on land acquisition (Amendment ) Bill is set to get an extension till the end of the first week of the next winter session of Parliament.

The JPC meeting on Thursday decided to recommend to Lok Sabha Speaker next week to get House’s approval for the extension, sources said.

The move is seen as the ruling BJP having another jab at the contentious land acquisition and compensation after its successfull electoral engagements in Uttar Pradesh and three other States.

The NDA government had chosen to beat a retreat in late 2015 after the amendments it had proposed to the 2013 Act faced major resistance from the Opposition parties and a section of the ruling coalion.

Ever since the government backtracked in 2015 – resulting in the lapse of the Ordinance the government had promulgated — some opposition parties have been arguing that the JPC could be wound up as it had outlived its purpose. However, the ruling side has kept the JPC, keeping the proposed Bill alive.

Though JPC did not meet since last December and its already extended term is to end by end of the ongoing session of parliament, chairman Ganesh Singh (BJP) convened a meeting on Thursday.

Sources said the meeting was informed that many state governments have been sending representations to the JPC, conveying various difficulties they have been facing on the acquired land ever since the lapse of the Ordinance (that had incorporated provisions based on the amendments the NDA regime had proposed to the 2013 Act).

Sources said many state governments have complained of a series of litigations with the lapse of the Ordinance that have sought higher monetary compensations, and in some cases, the land owners demanding the return of the acquired lands. In view of these litigations, sources said, many states want the JPC to bring greater clarity on the terms and conditions of land acquisition and compensation.

The JPC on Thursday decided to call chief secretaries and revenue secretaries of these states to have their concerns recorded before the committee.

The NDA government lacked majority in Rajya Sabha and worried that Opposition parties making it an issue before the elections that might have affected the electorally important farmers constituency.

The development suggests the electoral boost in the state elections and the resultant opening for a gradual increase of the rulling coalition’s tally in the Rajya Sabha might have inspired the renewed bid to clear the law on land acquisition.

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