Burdwan/New Delhi: Virtually rejecting the Modi government's land bill, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said her government was already following an "alternative" land acquisition policy as she skipped a meeting of the NITI Aayog called to discuss the contentious legislation.
Banerjee, who was among the four non-Congress chief ministers to have not attended the meeting of the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog, said her state was following an alternative land policy as it "cannot wait indefinitely for the Centre to come up with its land acquisition policy".
"We have framed an alternative land policy where direct purchase can be done through negotiations without any forcible acquisition," the chief minister said at the 100th administrative meeting of the Trinamool Congress government in Burdwan.
Banerjee said her government had been able to complete various projects through direct land purchase after holding negotiations with the land owners.
"We cannot wait indefinitely for the Centre to come up with its land acquisition policy, so we have started following this model. We have taken the people into confidence while acquiring land," the chief minister said.
Citing instances where the state had been able to give land to big projects, Banerjee said the Andal greenfield airport was given land for completion as well as NTPC's Katwa project, among others.
Several other projects for bridges and irrigation had started by acquiring land following this route, she said.
Banerjee had on Saturday written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing her opposition to the land bill and her inability to attend a meeting called by him on the issue due to pre-occupations.
Trinamool Congress Spokesman Derek O' Brien had told PTI there was no question of Banerjee supporting the modified version of the land law passed by the previous UPA dispensation that the Modi government seeks to pass in Parliament.
O' Brian had said, "She has outlined the Trinamool Congress' long-held position on the issue beginning from various land movements to our opposition to the land bill in 2013 when we had voted against it. The West Bengal Assembly had also passed a resolution against it."
When asked whether Banerjee is still sticking to her stand on the bill, the party MP said, "Yes. 200 per cent".
O'Brian had represented Trinamool Congress at the Iftar dinner hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday which was seen as an attempt by her to form an opposition bloc to take on the government on a host of issues including the land bill in Parliament when it goes into the Monsoon Session on July 21. The TMC leader was seated at the same table as Sonia.
Chief Ministers of nine Congress-ruled states and those of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha today kept away from NITI Aayog's meeting called to discuss various issues, including the land Bill.