TO HOLD ITS GROUND, NDA GOVT NEEDS THE LAND BILL ORDINANCE THROUGH

The hon. President has convened the Joint Sitting of both the Houses of Parliament under Article 108 of the Constitution in connection with discussing the configuration and implications of the Prevention of Terrorism Law and whether it should be passed or not? An anti-terrorism law already existed in America, yet they have brought a new law. The whole nation of United States was unanimous about it and when that law was brought before the Senate, only one vote was cast against it. After the attack on World Trade Centre which took a toll of about 3000 people, the President of America lost no time in declaring, `A war has been launched on the United States of America’. On the other hand, in our country this law was defeated in the Rajya Sabha and, paradoxically, the spokespersons of the parties went to extent of saying that they wanted to show to the world that this country was divided over this issue.

Arun Jaitley, the Minister of Law, Justice & Company Affairs, March 2002 (during a joint sitting of the Parliament to pass the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 – POTA – to replace the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance – POTO)

We need to get ready to listen to something like this when the National Democratic Alliance government led by Narendra Modi goes ahead with the Land Bill ordinance to get it passed in the joint sitting of the Parliament.

Narendra Modi has no other option.

He has promised the sky and he needs to deliver if he has to leave his legacy behind. And to leave a legacy worth talking about, he needs to come back in power in 2019.

He needs time.

One year is almost gone and the policy apparatus is still not in place, a must before Modi embarks on the journey to realize his dreams, to deliver on his promises.

And if a five year term, i.e., the single term, is going to be the window available, Modi has started running out of time.

He has promised jobs. He has promised increased income. He promised better amenities to live with. He has promised smarter living with smart cities. He has promised faster living with increased connectivity and reduced run time.

To say in one sentence – he has promised good times for a good life.

And the government cannot do so on its own. It needs collaborators, primarily from the industry, from within, and from abroad.

It needs capital and ways to invest that capital – in industries, in infrastructure – generating revenue, creating employment.

And land is an imperative in achieving this.

Delay in land acquisition has stalled projects worth over Rs. 3.5 Lakh Crore. There are reports that take this cost to Rs. 20 Lakh Crore. A CMIE report puts the worth of the stalled projects to some 14 Trillion US$. The industrial corridors of Delhi-Mumbai and Mumbai-Chennai and over 60 national highways are stalled due to delay in acquiring land.

Land is needed to create industrial corridors, new residential hubs and the associated infrastructure. Land is needed to connect India better to move faster.

Land is the key to unlock what Modi is aspiring for. And it is the key reason behind the Land Bill ordinance that diluted the provisions of the previous Bill passed by the Manmohan Singh led United Progressive Alliance government. Broadly, more categories have been exempted where owners’ consent is not necessary. Also, the provisions related to Social Impact Analysis have been diluted as well.

With mounting opposition and criticism, not just from the political opposition, but from his own allies, as well as civil society movements like the one launched by Anna Hazare, the ‘consensus’ that was always elusive, has gone beyond reach, with the present form of the Bill.

And to have his way ahead, Modi needs the Bill cleared in this form.

So, expect justifications, all of which are not invalid with some having mandatory relevance for spurring growth in India, during the joint session that is to be called to get the Land Bill ordinance cleared.

Would it be Arun Jaitley this time to initiate the debate of the joint sitting, the Minister of Finance and Information & Broadcasting now, one of the most eloquent NDA ministers? Last time, in 2002, it was the then Home Minister L K Advani.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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