New Delhi : The Joint Committee of Parliament examining the contentious land bill on Thursday decided to seek a fresh extension of its term till the beginning of the Budget Session.

Sources said the panel, whose term was extended on November 30 by the Lok Sabha till the last day of the Winter session, sought more time at its meeting as only a few states have tendered their response on various clauses of the bill.

“We have to get the opinion of every state on the bill,” said a source.  The meeting was attended by most of the Opposition members, but Congress’ Jairam Ramesh was absent.  “Chairman of the panel S S Ahluwalia himself said the committee would seek a fresh extension after NCP chief Sharad Pawar pointed out that most of the states are yet to respond to the questionnaire sent to them by the committee,” a source said.

After the panel today decided to seek more time, it will bring the proposal before Lok Sabha to seek its nod for the soon.

Chairman of the panel Ahluwalia will have to move a resolution in the House in this regard.  When the committee’s term was extended on November 30, members from the Opposition, especially Congress, contended since Prime Minister Narendra Modi had himself said that government will not repromulgate the land ordinance, which was based on the bill being examined by the Committee, there was no point in extending its term.

The ordinance lapsed on August 31 after the government decided against issuing it for the fourth time. In a recent meeting of the panel, Opposition members had demanded calling Modi as a witness, an idea opposed by the ruling BJP and ally Shiv Sena.

Earlier in August also, the panel was given an extension to submit its report in the winter session.

Ahluwalia has been striving to submit a unanimous report. Giving up the ordinance route, the government had on August 28 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 brought in December 2014 these 13 acts under the new land bill. At the same it also 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. PTI

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