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Land acquisition bill row delays solar policy nod in Maharashtra

According to reports, the hurdles in the passage of the land acquisition bill in Lok Sabha has delayed the announcement of Maharashtra government’s solar policy, which is aimed at generating 7,500 MW power through solar energy.

Who’s opposing land acquisition bill?
The Centre has been facing too many hurdles for the passage of the land acquisition bill. Noted social worker Anna Hazare led the agitation at Jantar Mantar against the proposed Act while the entire Opposition as well as alliance partners of the NDA, including Shiv Sena and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, have opposed the new bill by terming it as anti-farmer. In fact, this has prompted prime minister Narendra Modi to soften his stand and he is now showing readiness to make amendments in the proposed Act.

What’s solar policy got to do with the bill?
The delay in passage of this bill has had an impact on the state’s solar policy, which is also undergoing changes commensurate with the land acquisition bill.
Minister for power Chandrashekhar Bawankule had announced that he would be making the solar policy public on February 24, but could not do so since the passage of land acquisition bill in he Parliament was crucial for the same. Now, since the land acquisition bill has thrown a few new questions, especially with respect to acquiring farmers’ land for any project, the solar policy, which is ready in draft form, would require a few changes.

Is the solar policy ready?
Bawankule informed that the policy is almost ready. “We will come out with the policy before the budget session of the state government. The session will commence from March 9.” The minister informed that the solar policy would now incorporate new provision of acquiring land from farmers on lease or rental basis for solar projects or for creating solar farms. He added that it would ensure fixed income in the form of rent to the farmer and even if the farm land is not under irrigation, it would provide opportunity for investors as well as the land owners.

What does the policy include?
The solar policy also includes making solar panels mandatory on all government establishments and converting the street lights in the big cities into energy efficient LEDs. Bawankule expressed confidence that even though the February 24 deadline is missed, the government would soon announce the policy with a few changes.

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