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90% depositions before Land Bill panel slam amendments

The committee has already received objections and suggestions of various state governments in written.

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90% depositions before Land Bill panel slam amendments
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Even as depositions before the Joint Committee of Parliament on Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2015 will soon come to a close, the panel has to cover much ground, before it can submit its report to the Parliament on the first day of the monsoon session. Sources privy to the committee's proceedings said that members from the Opposition had a debate with chairperson SS Ahluwalia, on Tuesday, while demanding that representatives of state governments be invited to depose. The committee has, till now, recorded around 35 depositions, of which 90 per cent have opposed amendments to the Bill.

The committee has already received objections and suggestions of various state governments in written.

The joint committee has been formed to examine the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015. Sources said that the committee members belonging to Bharatiya Janata Party were hesitant to call representatives of state governments as it would drag the committee proceedings and they had a heated debate with members from the Trinamool Congress and Congress. The chairperson of the joint committee, SS Ahluwalia, explained that the decision to call state government representatives would have to be taken after consulting Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, reliable sources said. The joint committee is also yet to do a clause by clause discussion on the Bill, which could take time.

According to sources, the joint committee also discussed the possibility of undertaking field visits across some parts of the country to look at land acquisition patterns. Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar suggested that a visit should be made to Magarpatta, satellite towsnship in Pune, that was built on 400 acres of land pooled in by farmers to create a mixed-used town and who were also stakeholders in creating it. A field visit to Anna Hazare's hometown, Ralegan Siddhi, was also proposed by a member. Pawar, sources said, also suggested that vice-chancellors of top agricultural universities and veteran scientist MS Swaminathan be invited to speak on the Bill.

The joint committee members are slated to propose amendments to the Bill and voting is likely to happen on those amendments by July 12.

Earlier during Tuesday's meeting, the joint committee recorded more criticism against the controversial Bill from a member of Anna Hazare-led Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Nyas. Though Hazare's colleague deposed on Tuesday, he may still be given time to speak on the Bill next week. The committee also recorded depositions from members of All India Kisan Sabha, Asian Centre for Human Rights and Centre for Policy Research.

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