Narendra Modi On Land Bill: Open To Changes That Benefit Poor


NEW DELHI — Amendments in the land acquisition bill in the interest of farmers, poor, village and nation will be accepted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today asserting that along with GST bill the measure will be passed by Parliament in “a matter of time”.

“Gaon, Garib, Kisan (village, poor and farmers): if the suggestions are favourable to these downtrodden groups and are in the interests of the nation, we will accept those suggestions,” he told PTI in an interview.

He was asked whether the government would accommodate the views of the Opposition since there is a deadlock on the land bill. Both the land and GST bills have been referred to parliamentary committees and government is hoping they will be passed in the monsoon session of Parliament.

To a question on the pace of economic reforms being affected by the problems faced on crucial legislations like Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Land Bill in Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister said both the measures were beneficial for the country.

“The core essence of these Bills should be appreciated by all the parties keeping aside political motives. Long term interest of the nation should be foremost.

“The fact that the States have agreed to the GST design, shows the maturity of our federal system and the GST Bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha. It is a matter of time before these laws are passed,” he said.

To another question on what kind of message would foreign investors get if reform measures are not passed, he said, “One of the peculiarities of Delhi is that the term ‘reform’ is associated only with passing of laws in Parliament.”

In fact, he said, the most important reforms needed are those without new laws, at various levels of Government, in work practices and procedures.

“We have initiated a number of major reforms. These include decontrol of diesel prices, direct transfer of cooking gas subsidy, enhancement of FDI limits, revamping of railways and many others.

“The truth is that reform has actually been pushed very fast and in fact as a result FDI has already witnessed an increase of 39 per cent in the period April 2014 to February 2015 compared to the previous year,” the Prime Minister said.

Answering acquisitions that the land bill was to benefit the corporates, Modi said he did not want to get into political mudslinging.

“However I do want to ask whether those who allotted coal mines and forest land, rich with mineral resources, to their favourite corporates have the moral right to question this government which is working ceaselessly for the welfare of all sections of society,” he said.

Without naming Congress, Modi said, he was astonished that even after running a government for 60 years, the ones asking these questions have such poor knowledge of administration and governance.

“The whole country knows that the subject of land is not with the Central Government and the Centre does not require lands. All rights relating to land are with the states.

“The 120 year old land acquisition act was amended by the previous government without even 120 minutes of discussion in Parliament. Thinking the bill was good for farmers, we also supported it at that time. Later many complaints came from the states. We cannot disrespect the wishes of states.

“One should not be so arrogant as to avoid correcting mistakes, so we brought the bill to rectify the errors, that too in response to the demand of the states. Anyone who looks at our proposed amendments without politically-tinted glasses will give us full marks,” he said.


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