The man who leads the government charge against UPA’s Land Bill says the Centre will not budge on changes to the bill. Union transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari spoke exclusively to CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan- saying the Centre will also challenge the green tribunal’s order against old diesel vehicles plying in Delhi.
He also spoke about his ambitious plans to spruce up road projects that are stalled.
Below is the transcript of Nitin Gadkari’s interview with CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan
Q: Let me start by asking you about news that hit the headlines today and that is the Supreme Court issuing a notice on the Land ordinance to the government asking why the ordinance was re-promulgated. The appeal has been made by Non Government Organisations (NGOs) representing four farmer unions in specific and they say that the re-promulgation and the proroguing of the Budget session amounts to a fraud in the Constitution. What is the government’s response going to be?
A: First of all they have right to appeal in the Supreme Court. Now the stay is not granted Supreme Court asking the government reply for that, we will submit to the Supreme Court, that is not the problem. The problem is that before December 31 if we cannot get that Ordinance, otherwise the situation will be such that – even we won’t be in position to give the 1:4, 1:2 compensation to the farmer because in the previous Act there was a provision that the last date for execution will be up December 31.
Q: But there is opposition including from your own allies. In the Lok Sabha you enjoy the majority, but you didn’t table it in the Rajya Sabha, you chose to prorogue the Budget session and instead re-promulgate the ordinance. It raises question in people’s minds as to the desperation for this government to clear this Ordinance?
A: Who is responsible for that when the bill is passed by parliament? Only in the Rajya Sabha, for two times, it is the Rajya Sabha opposition. When there was a discussion we were ready to cooperate with them. We are ready to accept their suggestion at the same time. They have decided they should not pass this bill in the Rajya Sabha. That was the reason we had to make an ordinance. It is because of the non cooperation of the officials in the Rajya Sabha. How are we responsible for that?
Q: Are you going to make changes as far as the two contentious issues, 9 amendments have been moved by your government in the bill that has been passed by the Lok Sabha but are you willing to make any concessions on the two controversial and crucial issues of consent and social impact assessment? That is what the opposition claims is the effort to sort of try and be pro-corporate. You yourself have stated on record that you are willing to take more suggestions onboard and make more amendments. Can we expect any dilution as far as consent and social impact assessment is concerned?
A: First of all you have to understand what is the meaning of consent clause. Eighty percent of the land in the country, its acquisition is only for irrigation. Now in irrigation if we have to make one dam, for 3000 acre the dam is there and for 3 lakh acres of land they get water from it. Now this consent clause says 80 percent of the farmers, if they give the permission, we can make the dam.
Now suppose you have a house in the road construction and widening of the road is very essential. Present road sees a lot of accidents. So, in the public interest we have to increase the width of the road. If we have taken their land for the widening of the road, if 80 percent of people say no we will not give you any land, we cannot extend that road.
Suppose if anywhere we want to make low cost housing for the poor people and if 80 percent of people say no we will not give you land, it means that. What is the meaning you understand?
Q: Then you go back to the original law, the law that was attempting to be changed by the 2013 Act. The eminent domain then comes right back to where it was?
A: You are not correct. In the bill which is passed by UPA in parliament, almost their 13 Acts – Coal Mines Act, Mining Act, Railways Act everywhere there is an exemption from consent clause and social impact assessment (SIA).
I am asking you a simple question, to the opposition party particularly the Congress — in the Coal Mines Act you acquire the land and without any transparent process you allot coal mines to big industrialists of this country, CAG gave a report that this is a loss to the country of Rs 1 lakh 88 thousand crore and in the auction of 20 mines we get Rs 2 lakh crore. Now I am asking a question to the Congress, at the time when you acquired the land and gave coal mines to the big people you never remembered this consent clause and SIA?