Mamata skips Pranab meet on Land Acquisition Bill

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, a staunch opponent of the proposed Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, today failed to turn up at a meeting convened by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Updated: Oct 25, 2010, 22:27 PM IST

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress chief
Mamata Banerjee, a staunch opponent of the proposed Land
Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, today failed to turn up at a
meeting convened by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to sort
out differences on the issue.

The meeting was aimed at hammering a way out for the
passage of the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007, which
has been opposed by the Railway Minister, who believes that
the legislation would run counter to the stand she took over
Nandigram and Singur issues in West Bengal.

Government sources said the bill would not make a
headway till Banerjee participates in the consultations to
resolve the deadlocks.

Rural Development Minister CP Joshi attended the
meeting and briefed Mukherjee about "his Ministry`s stand on
the apprehensions raised by Banerjee with regard to the
proposed bill," government sources said.

Banerjee has been opposed to a provision in the bill
which provides for private developers acquiring 70 per cent
of land for a proposed industrial project directly from
farmers and land owners.

The Trinamool Congress chief, who was in the forefront
of agitations in Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal on the
issue of land acquisition, has strongly demanded penal
provisions to check use of money and muscle power by private
developers while acquiring land from farmers.

She also wants the Centre to strip governments of any
role in acquiring land for private companies while the
proposed bill seeks to limit it to 30 per cent.

The proposed bill seeks to limit the state`s role in
acquiring land for private companies to 30 percent, after the
latter have acquired 70 per cent of the required land on their
own.

But Banerjee has argued that government should have no
role in buying land for private companies.

Last year, the Union Cabinet had cleared the bill with
certain changes in its provisions but it was not clear whether
changes were made in the provisions being opposed by Banerjee.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently assured
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that the pending bill would be
brought in the Winter Session of Parliament.

Singh gave the assurance to Gandhi when he met him
with a delegation of Congress leaders and farmers from Uttar
Pradesh who were agitating against "forcible" acquisition of
land of farmers in Aligarh and adjoining areas in the state.

The bill redefines `public purpose` for land
acquisition as defence purposes, construction of
infrastructure projects or projects useful to the general
public.

-PTI