New Delhi: Differences persisted in the Group of Ministers(GoM) on the Land bill on Monday with certain clauses including on retrospective acquisitions and consent required from land owners facing opposition from some members.

With a consensus eluding the second meeting of the 14-member GoM, its chairman Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said two to three more meetings may be required to finalise the legislation.

During the first meeting, the same set of issues on which there was no unanimity today had divided the members of the GoM.

Sources familiar with the deliberations also said the members expressed differences over government's role in acquiring land for private parties.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy are learnt to have supported the idea of government helping private players during land acquisition.

Defence Minister A K Antony is understood to have mooted that government should step in to help PPP projects only when it becomes absolutely necessary and should stay away from helping private players in acquiring lands.

"No final view on retrospective clause could happen. The GoM also could not evolve a consensus over government's role in acquiring land for private parties and its involvement in PPP projects," they said.

At Monday's meeting, some Ministers also demanded retention of the original clause of seeking consent of 80 percent of people (land owners) for acquiring land.

The 80 percent clause was earlier changed to seeking the consent of two-third (66 percent) of the land owners for making such acquisitions.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia could not attend the meeting on Monday

The issue of people who have cultivation rights over land, without its ownership, was also discussed at the meeting. The idea was proposed by Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh promising to look into it, sources said.

"There is a huge chunk of such people but there is no data available regarding their number. Several members on Monday expressed their positive opinion for including this issue in the proposed act," a source said.

Such commercial uses of land by private parties, which have not been mentioned in the original plan, was also discussed during the meeting to check corruption.

Sources said the GoM is likely to consider the Rural Development Ministry's demand to add a clause that would make mandatory for the government to revise the law after 20-25 years.

The clause, being termed as "poison clause", will ensure that the law is revised as per the prevailing circumstances, they said.

Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath and Deo supported the idea of including gram sabhas and gram panchayats for determining the value of agriculture land and rehabilitation package after its acquisition, they said.

The first meeting of the GoM on the Land Acquisition Bill last month had witnessed a strong demand by some members for retaining a window of retrospective application which was done away with earlier.

(Agencies)

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