Thursday, January 1, 2015

‘Pro-farmer’ amendments: Modi

“Proposed amendments meet twin objectives of farmer welfare; along with expeditiously meeting strategic and developmental needs of the country,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Monday night on the ordinance to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Act, 2013.
While the National Alliance of People's Movements, a network of social activists, described the step as “anti-poor” and pushing a corporate agenda, Mr Modi described the ordinance as including a “pro-farmer step” of bringing compensation and rehabilitation under 13 exempt central laws at par with the norms of LARR 2013. “Certain amendments have been made in the Act to further strengthen the provisions to protect the interests of the ‘affected families’,” he noted.
Under Section 105 of LARR Act, 13 central laws, including the National Highways Act 1956, the Railways Act 1989, Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition and Development Act 1957, are exempt from the provisions of the Land Act. The Land Act, however, required that within a year from the commencement of the Act the government may allow LARR’s provisions of rehabilitation to apply even in acquisition under the 13 laws that are currently exempt, subject to Parliament’s approval.
“The Act mandated that within a year, the notification including these 13 exempt laws be laid before Parliament while it is in session, for a total period of 30 days in one session or in two or more successive sessions, which was not possible this session. That is why the government found the ordinance route necessary,” said a senior Ministry of Rural Development. However, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Rural Development with the UPA government said this was not true. “The one-year deadline for including the exempt laws already got over in September 2014.” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said the government was taking to the ordinance route as it was afraid of public accountability. “Criticism of the opposition against the ordinance betrays its frustration, after failing to derail the government's reform agenda”, said Shrikant Sharma, BJP national secretary. The Confederation of Indian Industry welcomed the ordinance describing it as a sign of the government's “serious commitment to economic reforms.”


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