New Delhi: The government is open to the idea of states framing their own land acquisition laws, the joint parliamentary panel examining the related bill has been informed, a move which is seen as an effort to break the logjam on the contentious measure.
Deposing before the Joint Panel of Parliament, Rural Development Secretary Vandana Kumari Jena yesterday said that the Union cabinet had discussed the issue threadbare on Tuesday night where a view emerged that states can be allowed to have their own laws, sources said.
At the same time, she said she cannot share the verbatim details of the Cabinet proceedings and that only the Cabinet Secretary was authorised to do so.
Meanwhile, sources in the government said the Centre may also include a fresh section in the law to allow state governments have the provision of a consent clause and social impact assessment while implementing the law.
According to the proposal, if some states want to have social impact assessment and seek consent from farmers before acquiring their land, they will be free to do so.
However, the parliamentary panel members were skeptical about the feasibility of this option. Congress' Jairam Ramesh and Trinamool Congress' Kalyan Banerjee are learnt to have questioned the Rural Development Secretary on the issue.
Today, the members sought clarification from Law Secretary P K Malhotra on what will happen if the central legislation and a legislation framed by a state government clash on certain issues.
They also wondered whether the President will give his assent to laws by states when an identical central law is in place.
The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Amitabh Kant was asked about the provision of procuring lands across rail and road corridors for industrial development.
He said land will be acquired by states for developing industrial complexes on one km of each side of the corridors wherever required. All the land on either side of corridors will not be acquired.
The move by the government to amend the land acquisition bill to give flexibility to the states to frame their own laws in a bid to break the prolonged impasse was slammed as a "new kind of conspiracy" at a public hearing organised today by various farmers' bodies.
Hundreds of farmers and activists from several parts of the country who had assembled here demanded that the NDA government withdraw the controversial land bill.
At the hearing organised by the Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, which included social activist Medha Patkar, JPC members and MPs Jairam Ramesh and Mohammad Salim of CPI(M), accused the Narendra Modi government of playing a "new kind of conspiracy" by getting the bill passed from the states.