Launching a scathing attack on the Congress, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said the previous UPA regime’s land law has had “disastrous impact” on India’s national security as Pakistan could get information on critical defence projects coming up.
Terming UPA government’s land law as “a defective piece of legislation”, he said though the Congress-led government had put defence and security as urgent matters, it had “forgotten to put such projects in the exempted list.”
This, he said, would have revealed the kind of defence or security projects being put up, where are they being put up and why.
“Signatures of 70 per cent of the villagers (whose land is being acquired) would be needed as their consent, as also the social impact assessment of installing the project. So, the information will be revealed and it will also reach Pakistan,” Jaitley said while intervening in Rajya Sabha on the debate on Motion of Thanks on the President’s Address.
“It (UPA’s Land Law) was a defective piece of legislation and threat to India’s security. We corrected it. It had a disastrous impact on security . . . Our strategic installations had held up,” the Finance Minister said.
Hitting out at the erstwhile Congress-led government, he said “scams and corruption, which used to be daily words occupying media headlines (during UPA rule), are no longer there. . . Nine months ago, the economy was in a doom and today we are back on the global radar.”
He also castigated the Opposition for projecting the land bill as “anti-farmer”, saying “propaganda has been created that the Bill is anti-farmers and pro-corporate sector. . . I appeal to Congress with folded hands…you had been in power…Don’t create environment in the country in which infrastructure and industry become bad words.”
At the same time, he said when the Act was formulated, 13 areas under schedule IV were exempted from Land Act, including the social impact assessment and consent clause. The NDA government has only added five more areas like Atomic Energy and National Highways, he said.
Jaitley said the new land acquisition bill, to replace the ordinance promulgated by the NDA government in December 2014, does not compromise on compensation and rehabilitation, but rather increases the rate of compensation which is “a pro-farmer step”.
The latest bill has been framed in such a manner so as to create rural infrastructure and address issues like irrigation, which have been not exempted by the previous government, the Minister said.
Taking a dig at the opposition for criticising NDA rule, he said “the first and obvious change in nine months in comparison with five years of UPA-II regime is that the word ‘corruption’ is no longer used in Indian politics.”
He said scams and corruption which used to catch media headlines during the UPA rule “are not there now and coal blocks allocations which were done in the most arbitrary and discretionary manner by the UPA, where not a rupee was paid by private players, have been brought under auction.”