Congress will strongly oppose land ordinance in Parliament: Jairam Ramesh
New Delhi: Congress will strongly oppose the land ordinance in the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament saying interests of farmers and livelihood losers will be "completely eliminated" if it becomes law as it reopens the route for forcible acquisition."The ordinance is a black ordinance. We are going to oppose it in Parliament. We are holding public rallies against the ordinance," said Congress MP Jairam Ramesh.
He said the party is not alone in this regard as "many other political parties are against" the ordinance, which, he added "will be very detrimental to the interests of farmers and livelihood losers".
Several Opposition parties and people's movements have challenged the Centre on the controversial Land Acquisition Ordinance.
"The ordinance reopens the 1894 route for forcible acquisition. It gives all powers back to the collector which we had taken away from the collector and given to the gram sabha," Ramesh told PTI.
The Land Acquisition Act 2013, a landmark legislation of UPA-II, was the brainchild of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.
"In our 2013 law, we had compensation for not just land owners but also livelihood losers, people whose livelihood depend on land, which is being acquired. That is going to be completely eliminated if the ordinance becomes a law. So in many ways, the ordinance is a return to 1894," he said.
He also accused the BJP of doing a u-turn on the issue.
"In 2013, BJP had supported the new law. All political parties supported the law. There were two all-party meetings, three amendments the BJP had proposed and which were incorporated, 15 hours of debate in Parliament, 65 MPs taking part.
"Rajnath Singh was the opening batsman in Lok Sabha and Vinay Katiyar in Rajya Sabha. And within eight months, BJP has done a u-turn," he said.
Incidentally Ramesh is writing a book "Legislating for Equity: The Making of the 2013 Land Acquisition Law" which is scheduled to be out in April. His latest book "Green Signals: Ecology, Growth, and Democracy in India" was released in the ongoing World Book Fair here this week.
The Congress has already constituted a three-member group to fine-tune its strategy on the issue. Ramesh, former Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and former Food Minister KV Thomas are members of the high-power group, which will try to reconcile the interests of various stakeholders while formulating the blueprint of Congress protest plan.
On 29 December last year, the government had recommended promulgation of an ordinance making significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas of industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.
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