Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh passionately pushed the sanitation issue in 2012 by launching a nationwide campaign to end open defecation, even kicking up a controversy or two in the process but his ministry's ambitious land acquisition bill did not see the light of the day.
The Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill 2011 was deferred by the Winter Session of Lok Sabha till the Budget Session next year bowing to the demand of Opposition parties.
They said that more time was needed to discuss the provisions of the bill which will have a wide ranging impact on farmers and industries.
The bill, introduced in Lok Sabha during the Monsoon Session of Parliament last year and was referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee which submitted its recommendations in May this year, provides for a fair compensation to land owners in both rural and urban areas with the stipulation that consent of 80 per cent of the people for acquiring land for private industry is necessary.
Despite Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council pushing for the law for long, the bill has been hanging fire for sometime. It was referred to a GoM in the wake of differences in the Cabinet over certain provisions.
Ramesh, as in-charge of Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry, passionately pushed sanitation issue by launching nationwide campaign to end open defecation.
During his stint in the Ministry, he kicked up several controversies and drew flak from many quarters as he highlighted the sanitation situation in the country.
Ramesh's statements like "Women demand mobile phones, not toilets" and "There are more temples in the country than toilets" were widely discussed in the country where 60 per cent of people still defecate in the open.
To highlight the importance of toilet for women, he advised them, "Don't get married into a house where there are no toilets."
He, however, lost charge of Drinking Water and Sanitation Ministry after the Cabinet reshuffle.
The year also saw Rural Development Ministry introducing MNREGA 2.0 – the second generation reforms for the rural job scheme. According to it, majority of works are related to agricultural and allied activities. It also notified the works that will facilitate rural sanitation projects in a major way.
Ramesh rejected criticism from various quarters including the Agriculture Ministry that MNREGA has led to low farm productivity. His argument is that 70 percent of rural job scheme happens during the non-farm