Will go ahead with land bill if JCP favours it, says Union Minister

Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh on Saturday attacked Congress for putting hurdles in country's progress by opposing NDA's land bill and said the government will not "hesitate" to go ahead with the legislation again if the committee, formed to look into the amended bill, favours it.

PTI| Updated: Sep 19, 2015, 17:37 PM IST

Chandigarh: Union Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh on Saturday attacked Congress for putting hurdles in country's progress by opposing NDA's land bill and said the government will not "hesitate" to go ahead with the legislation again if the committee, formed to look into the amended bill, favours it.

"If Joint Committee of Parliament, constituted to look into the amended land bill, comes out with a report with unanimous opinion and which is in favour of farmers, the government will not have any hesitation to come with legislation again," the Union minister said while addressing media here today.

He lamented three time extension sought by the panel in submitting its report.

The Centre has not re-promulgated the land Ordinance and decided to wait till the Joint Committee of Parliament submits its report on the bill.

The rural development minister said that even Congress- ruled states like Maharashtra and Haryana in 2014 had pointed out that it was difficult to acquire land under the land act 2013, demanding it should be amended.

Singh said that during discussion in Parliament, members including that of Congress, stressed upon giving employment to 20 crore youths living in rural areas.

"One side they talk about employment and on the other side, they oppose the same bill," he said.

Singh described Congress' proposed victory rally on the land bill issue as an attempt to "search the lost political space" and "credibility" after last Lok Sabha polls, saying it used farmer only as "pawn" to scuttle the land bill brought by NDA government in the Parliament.

Hitting out at the Congress, Birender Singh-- a prominent Jat leader of Haryana-- accused the Congress of putting "stumbling block" in providing employment opportunities to 20 crore rural youths by not allowing the amended land bill to be passed in Parliament.

"The Congress party's (victory) rally is only an attempt to search the lost (political) space and credibility. Farmers are only being used as pawn. They never talked about their rights," the minister said.

The Union Rural Development Minister said,"Those who claim that they are fighting for farmers... They have actually defrauded with farmers for ten years and today they say they (Congress) will celebrate their victory."

The Minister accused the previous UPA-led government at the Centre of coming out with a land bill in 2013 with an eye on farmers' votes in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

"But during their regime, several scandals came to the fore and they lost credibility. The then Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) was helpless... Corruption at that time was dominating," he alleged.

Defending the decision of the NDA government to come out

with amended land bill, the former-Congressman said that the Centre only wanted that the land acquisition process was expedited in the interest of country's progress and create employment opportunities for youth while farmers' interest being protected.

"We wanted that acquisition procedure is expedited. It takes minimum period of 59 months to complete the social impact assessment and other formalities.

"It means a youth will have to wait for five years to get employment. Our intention was also that farmers' rights should not suffer. The stand which Congress adopted was a stumbling block in giving employment to youths," he said.

The Minister asked the Congress, which is scheduled to hold a 'victory rally' tomorrow on land bill how will it explain land acquired from farmers at "dirt cheap" rates during Bhupinder Singh Hooda regime in Haryana.

Rolling out figures, the Minister said as much as 78,695 acres of land was acquired in 10 years regime of Hooda in Haryana.

However, 19,309 acres of land was released despite issuing notice under section 4 and 6 while throwing rules to the winds, he said.

"Land for setting up 37 SEZs was acquired and given to developers. You will be surprised that only six SEZ could come up. Land for 31 SEZs purchased at "throwaway" prices from farmers," he alleged.

He further claimed that 4,636 acres of land in Rohtak, Panipat, Sonepat and Faridabad was released despite notices issued under section 4 and 6.

"As many as 175 change of land use were granted for this land. Why same CLU was not given to original owners but given to those who later purchased it. There cannot be a bigger scandal than this. Whether Congress can answer this," he asked.

He also questioned Congress why it kept 13 other central laws out of the ambit of 2013 land law provisions.