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Plans to Alter, Land Bill

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s national executive meeting that begins in Bengaluru on Friday will set the agenda for an elaborate and sustained image management exercise with special focus on the Land Bill.
In a bid to contain the Opposition attack and to counter the “anti-farmer” tag, it has been given, the NDA government may consider the possibility of enhancing compensation in the Land Acquisition Bill without going back on any of the contentious amendments brought in by it to the 2013 legislation.
This latest war in an ongoing battle reminded me of a story I had heard from an IAS officer some years ago: a state government had launched a dairy scheme whereby eligible tribal families got a cow gratis as part of a scheme to develop a new income stream for them. The district collector decided to visit one of the families a few weeks after the cow had been given.
The government has been under attack for its move to bring changes to the 2013 legislation, with the Opposition mounting a united campaign against it while accusing it of working against the farmers’ interests and being pro-corporate.
Perhaps in the case of the Land Bill too, some intelligent re-branding on the part of the present government could help the cause. And Prime Minister Modi’s latest ‘Mann ki Baat’ arguing the case could be the launching pad for such a perception change. Party sources said that the foreign policy resolution is likely to be moved on Friday. The BJP is expected to laud Mr. Modi on his foreign policy outreach “from Bhutan to the U.S.” A party leader said that Mr. Modi was the only Indian Prime Minister to visit Nepal in 18 years and Sri Lanka in 28.
In its ordinance promulgated on December 31, the government had expanded the list of projects that would be exempted from requirements of consent and Social Impact Assessment to include five new categories, while also tweaking crucial provisions like the retrospective clause.