Ganesh Singh appointed chairperson of Joint Committee of Parliament on land acquisition bill

New Delhi: BJP Lok Sabha member Ganesh Singh has been appointed the new chairperson of the Joint Committee of Parliament examining the contentious land bill. Singh, who was already member of the panel, replaces SS Ahluwalia who became Minister of the State for Parliamentarty Affairs in the July 5 reshuffle of the council of ministers. The first task at hand for Singh on Friday was to move a resolution in the Lok Sabha seeking the seventh extension of the term of the panel.

The resolution giving fresh extension till “the last day of the Winter session” was passed by a voice vote in the Lower House, amid noisy protests over the issue of AAP MP Bhagwant Mann’s videography of the Parliament complex. “Yes, I have been appointed as the chairman…the next meeting will be held after the (Monsoon) session,” Singh said.

The resolution moved by him in Lok Sabha said: “That this House do extend time for presentation of the Report of the Joint Committee on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Second Amendment) Bill, 2015 upto the last day of the Winter Session, 2016.” The Winter session usually begins in November last week.

Earlier, the committee’s term was extended till the first week of the Monsoon session and was to end on Friday. Since the land acquisition bill is pending in Parliament, the government had promulgated ordinance on four occasions. But giving up the ordinance route, the government had on August 28 last issued a ‘statutory order’ to include 13 central acts like National Highway and Railways acts to extend benefits to those whose land is acquired under land law.

The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 had exempted 13 acts from its purview with the condition that they would be brought within the ambit of the act within one year. The NDA’s ordinance in December 2014 had brought these 13 acts under the new land bill. At the same time, it also made significant changes in the Land Acquisition Act 2013 including removal of consent clause for acquiring land for five areas — industrial corridors, PPP projects, rural infrastructure, affordable housing and defence.

Facing stiff protests from the Opposition as well as allies, the NDA government decided not to press with the Ordinance for the fourth time and BJP members in the parliamentary panel moved amendments seeking to restore certain clauses of the earlier bill.