The brouhaha over the land ordinance has touched new heights owing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent take on the same.
In his Mann Ki Baat address on radio on the 30th day of August, Modi conceded to the lapse of the highly contentious land ordinance, adding that the Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013 would persist but with a slight tweak, that is, it would capsulate 13 points that would ensure the economic benefit of the farmers( the inclusion of the 13 points in the land acquisition act would lead to exemptions of sectors like atomic energy, railways, mines, ancient monuments and so on).
Further, he also expounded that his response was in wake of the misinformation being spread by the opposition parties regarding the land ordinance, “My farmer brothers and sisters, my farmer should not be misled and should never be in fear. I do not want to give any opportunity to anybody to create fear among farmers and mislead them.”
Endorsing the stand taken by the de-facto head of the state, MJ Akbar, a BJP spokesperson told NewsGram.com , “The Prime Minister hasn’t retrieved his stand, the very fact that he would ensure the inclusion of 13 points encapsulates his intent to render a pro-farmer change in the Land acquisition act 2013.”
However, Modi’s recent take has been conceived as a sheer exemplification of political opportunism. With the Bihar assembly polls knocking at the door and opposition parties bracing themselves up for the forthcoming elections, Modi’s retrieval seems to be a timeserving decision that would ensure BJP’s firm ground in the state.
According to a report in the Firstpost, the NDA in a bid to pocket a lump sum number in the Rajya Sabha is trying hard to crack the upcoming Bihar assembly polls. Owing to the fact that MLAs have a considerable role to play in the selection of MPs to Rajya Sabha, BJP requires a strong ground in states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Therefore, the BJP led NDA government is playacting its best to garner public attention and support.
“Modi’s retrieval of the bill was owing to the increasing criticism they garnered because to its anti-farmer nature. The Land bill 2013 which was passed during the UPA rule was unanimously supported by all the political parties; however it was owing to BJP’s nexus with the corporates that the present government wanted to amend the Land Act 2013,” sounded out Asish Dua, Congress’s media coordinator in an interview with NewsGram.com.
He further added, “The lapse of the land ordinance marks the triumph of democracy over the perils rolled out by the Modi government.”
Besides, the Prime Minister is terming the new development as a pro-farmer scheme, the defeat of his party is seeable enough. The 13 points or rather acts of which the leader has been constantly harping on is nothing less than a reiteration of clauses which were a part of the Land Act 2013. The scope to increase the radar of compensation under the 13 points schemes was always there- which the new found government kind of overlooked in their attempt at overhauling the Land Act.
“The 13 points which Narendra Modi has been talking of had already existed in the Land bill 2013, it had to get notified by the 31st of December 2014. However, the ruling government didn’t notify the same in order to push forth their agenda of overhauling the act. Now they are taking all the credit of endorsing the 13 acts which is factually incorrect because it was the UPA-2 government that had actually earmarked the same,” said Dua.
The major fact which remains dubious is the way Modi has been feigning his pro-farmer stance despite being aware of the fact that the land ordinance- if it would have been successfully passed in both the houses of the parliament- would have diluted the crucial provisions of mandatory consent and social impact assessment.
Adhering to the ideas fleshed out by a report in thewire.in, since the political juggernaut came to power, he has been overwhelmingly appreciated by the global finance capital community, owing to which it became all the more necessary for the leader to dole out an easy Land Acquisition act in order to garner foreign investments and land.
Therefore, mulling over the varied tenets, one needs to realize that though Modi has been conniving enough to prevail over his emissaries till this date, but his makeshift decisions exemplify the jitteriness permeating him and his party; they essay the vulnerability that the party is nibbling on in order to consolidate its stand in the Indian political milieu.
The Centre’s efforts to rejuvenate the Hindu holy river have failed to impress environmentalists, who feel a clean Ganga will remain a distant dream due to the Modi government’s failure to ensure the continuous flow of the river.
“Nothing has been done for ensuring a continuous flow of the river and also for its rejuvenation by the Narendra Modi government. Continuity is of supreme importance as the holy river has been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit for many years. But the Centre is trying to treat its teeth,” said Magsaysay awardee and a member of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA), Rajendra Singh.
Spending crores of rupees for beautification of ghats has been “wastage of the public exchequer” because “without ensuring a continuous flow, clean Ganga will continue to remain a distant dream”, said Rajendra Singh, who goes by the sobriquet “Waterman of India”.
Soon after assuming office, the Modi government rolled out its flagship “Namami Gange” mission at an estimated budget Rs 20,000 crore to clean and protect the Ganga.
Under Namami Gange, 254 projects worth Rs 24,672 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as construction of sewage infrastructure, ghats, development of crematoria, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation and public participation.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, 131 projects out of 254 were sanctioned for creating 3,076 MLD (million litre per day) new sewage treatment plants (STPs), rehabilitating 887 MLD of existing STPs and laying 4,942 km of sewer lines for battling pollution in the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.
Till November-end of the 2018-19 fiscal, the National Mission for Clean Ganga released Rs 1,532.59 crore to the states and the Central Public Sector Undertakings for implementing the programme and meeting establishment expenditure.
Rajendra Singh said: “Ganga wants freedom today. There is no need for any barrage or dam. We want building of dams and any constructions on the river be stopped.”
Echoing Singh, another member of the now dissolved NGRBA, K.J. Nath, said the flow of the river had been obstructed at many locations and its own space (flood plains) encroached upon at multiple places in the name of riverfront development.
However, Jayanta Bandyopadhayay, a former Professor of IIM-Calcutta and presently Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, said the success or otherwise of initiatives and projects of any government in cleaning the Ganga cannot be judged in a five-year time frame.
Managing a river like the Ganga, the lifeline of a very large number of people, is socio-technically a very complex issue and should be addressed with deep interdisciplinary knowledge, he added.
Bandyopadhayay stressed that the future of the Ganga, as well as that of its tributaries, depends on how quickly the transformation is made from the one dimensional perspective of rivers by engineers, political leaders, policymakers and others to a multidimensional and interdisciplinary one. (IANS)