New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Tuesday referred the land acquisition bill to a joint committee of the two houses after an spirited debate in which Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi accused the NDA government of "murdering" the legislation passed by the previous UPA regime.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu however rebutted Gandhi's allegations, saying the change in the 2013 Act had been made following consultation with the states.
Rural Development Minister Birender Singh meanwhile accused the previous Congress government in Haryana of acquiring thousands of acres of land in areas adjoining Delhi and changing land use in favour of builders. He said little acquisition had taken place so far under the 2013 Act.
The house adopted a motion moved by Birender Singh saying that bill further to amend the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Act, 2013 be referred to a joint committee of the houses consisting of 30 members.
The committee is likely to be headed by Bharatiya Janata Party member S.S. Ahluwalia, sources said.
The 20 members include members from the BJP, Congress, Biju Janata Dal, Telugu Desam Party, AIADMK, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Trinamool Congress, Shiv Sena, Lok Janshakti Party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi and YSR Congress Party.
The joint committee will have 10 members from the Rajya Sabha and is expected to give its report by the first day of monsoon session.
Leading the opposition attack on the bill, Gandhi accused the government of "murdering" the exisiting land bill and said his party will oppose the new land bill both inside and outside the parliament.
"This government is in a hurry to pass this bill... It will not happen so easily. If we are not able to stop it here (in parliament), we will hit the streets against it outside," he said.
"We took two years to bring land bill. NDA government murdered it within a few days," he added.
Accusing the National Democratic (NDA) government of trying to "grab" the land from farmers, he said: "A Soviet economist once told me that thieves do not come only at night, but during day time (and) that too wearing suit-boot."
He said the previous act had faced "axe blows" that had removed its essential components such as clauses on consent and social impact. Gandhi, who faced repeated interruptions from the treasury benches, said that according to information obtained from the finance ministry under the Right to Information Act, only eight percent projects were pending due to problems concerning land.
"The government has land. Forty percent of land in SEZs (special economic zones) is vacant. But you want to snatch the land of farmers," he said."The government wants to give the land to capitalists. This is actually a suit-boot government," he added.
Naidu said land was needed for irrigation, rural housing, rail lines and roads.
"We will not do anything which will hurt farmers community. If some people do not want industry, it is their choice. We want industry and agriculture," he said.
He said Congress brought the land bill in 2013 with an eye on Lok Sabha elections but lost badly.
"People have utmost faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Disinformation campaign, false propaganda is not going to achieve anything," he said.
Referring to Gandhi's "suit boot ki sarkar" digs at the government, Birender Singh quipped that there should be no problem if son of a farmer wears a suit.
The house rejected a statutory resolution disapproving the ordinance on the land bill brought by the government.