Citizens' Issues
BJP's land bill reversal, now for consent, social impact
In a major climbdown from its stated position, BJP appears to have agreed to restore key provisions of UPA's land law including those related to consent and social impact assessment (SIA), informed sources said.
 
The sources said that members of ruling National Democratic Alliance moved amendments at the Monday's meeting of the joint committee on land bill, seeking to bring back the consent clause and SIA.
 
The committee, headed by BJP's S.S. Ahluwalia, has sought time till August 7 to submit its report on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment Bill), 2015.
 
With the Bharatiya Janata Party having seemingly changed its position on the key bill, there is a possibility of the committee giving a consensus report and the government likely to recast the legislation.
 
The Congress and several other opposition parties had firmly objected to changes made in the land bill passed by the United Progressive Alliance government in 2013.
 
There was opposition to the bill from some Sangh outfits as also farmer organisations.
 
The Congress mounted a high-pitched attack on the Narendra Modi government on its new bill, alleging that it had made changes to the 2013 Act to benefit a few industralists.
 
The National Democratic Alliance government brought ordinances but the bill has not been passed by parliament. The bill was earlier passed by the Lok Sabha but could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha where the government lacks majority.
 
BJP leaders had repeatedly said that the UPA's land bill was against rural areas and they had made changes to the bill after suggestions from the states.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also convened a meeting with states on the bill last month which was boycotted by the Congress.
 
The 2013 Act required that the consent of 80 percent of land owners is obtained for private projects and that the consent of 70 percent of land owners be obtained for public private partnership (PPP) projects.
 
The bill of the NDA government exempted five categories - defence, rural infrastructure, affordable housing, industrial corridors and infrastructure projects including PPP projects where the central government owns the land - from these provisions of the act. 
 
While the 2013 act was applicable for the acquisition of land for private companies, the new bill proposed changed this to acquisition for "private entities" or an entity ther than a government entity, and could include a proprietorship, partnership, company, corporation, non-profit organization, or other entity under any other law.

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

2 years ago

This is what happens when hubris reigns in the ruling party. Modi govt should have anticipated this push back from the opposition and kept this controversial bill for another year while shepherding more important bills like the GST bill through the parliament. For a party that won a landslide, BJP seems to be tone deaf to the realities on the ground.

Delhi government spent Rs.22.33 crore on ads, HC told
The Delhi government on Monday told the Delhi High Court that since the May 13 order of the Supreme Court ruling that taxpayers' money cannot be spent to build the image of political leaders, it has spent Rs.22.33 crore on advertisements related to its policies.
 
Filing an affidavit before a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, Delhi government counsel Raman Duggal denied the allegation that huge amounts were being spent on advertisements glorifying Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Aarty (AAP).
 
The government said it was spending Rs.8 crore per month on advertisements to spread "awareness about government policies, programmes, activities, achievements, services and initiatives amongst the public since the public has a right to such information".
 
The bench had earlier asked the Kejriwal government to file a status report with details of money spent by it on advertisements following the Supreme Court direction.
 
The affidavit of the Delhi government said the total budget for Delhi was Rs.40,000 crore, out of which Rs.523 crore was earmarked for information and publicity -- which comes to 1.518 percent.
 
From the date of the Supreme Court judgement, a sum of Rs.22,33,24,659 has been spent on print, electronic media as well as outdoor publicity, which works out to approximately Rs.8 crore per month, which was a "very meagre amount" compared to the budget of Rs.523 crore.
 
The city government's response came on a bunch of PILs, including a plea by Congress leader Ajay Maken, seeking restraint on advertisements allegedly glorifying Kejriwal and the AAP.
 
Maken, who heads the Delhi unit of the Congress, also sought direction to restrain the Delhi government from publishing Kejriwal's name in any of its current or future advertisements.
 
The plea said the act of the government was contrary to the ruling of the Supreme Court which called the development of personality cult of political functionaries at the cost of public money as an "antithesis to democracy".
 
The court posted the matter for August 5.
 
Meanwhile, another bench of the high court also sought the Delhi government's response on a similar plea by August 6.

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Over Rs.350 crore recovered from RIL for gas output shortfall
The government has recovered over a quarter of the penalty imposed on Reliance Industries Ltd for shortfall in gas production from the RIL consortium-operated KG basin fields in the eastern offshore, parliament was told on Monday
 
Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that of the more than Rs.1,200 crore additional profit petroleum due from RIL, his ministry has recovered over Rs.350 crore.
 
"As a result of disallowance of a portion of contract cost,,contract is liable to pay additional profit petroleum of,$195.34 million (Rs.1,211.1 crore) to the government for the period up to the year 2013-14," Pradhan said.
 
He said that as per the mechanism for recovery, state-run GAIL has "despited Rs.367.86 crore towards the additional profit petroleum with Government of India till June 2015".
 
"Government has directed GAIL on March 2, 2015 to deposit the amount being credited to the gas pool account maintained by GAIL with effect from November 1, 2014, to the government's exchequer towards the additional profit petroleum of $195.34 million due and payable by the contractor," he added.
 
The government has effected recovery of the additional profit by disallowing the RIL consortium an increase in the new domestic gas price announced last November.
 
RIL has initiated arbitration against the government for the penalty imposed on the company, disputing the grounds of fall in output.
 
The arbitration is about allegedly failing to meet output targets from the Reliance-led consortium's specific offshore blocks. The government wanted the company to make good this shortfall vis-a-vis the terms of contract.
 
In response to another question, Pradhan said the foreign direct investment (FDI) in the petroleum and natural gas sector witnessed an almost 10-fold rise in 2014-15 as compared to the preceding fiscal, touching Rs.6,473.22 crore.
 
"There is highest investment in exploration and production of oil and natural gas, followed by refineries and marketing including pipelines network and LNG re-gasification infrastructure," the minister said.
 
In the petroleum sector, 100 percent FDI is allowed in exploration and production, refining by the private companies and marketing of petroleum products.

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