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Ground reality: 30 to 50% of land acquired by government lying unused

Thursday, 26 March 2015 – 7:45am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna | From the print edition
About 30 to 50 percent of land acquired by state governments through their industrial development corporations has yet to be allotted or has been allotted but lies unused, reveal documents. This is a pivotal fact in the intensifying debate over land acquisition, with the Narendra Modi government pushing for land banks and claiming shortage of land for industrial projects, and farmer organisations saying this is not so.

About 30 to 50 percent of land acquired by state governments through their industrial development corporations has yet to be allotted or has been allotted but lies unused, reveal documents. This is a pivotal fact in the intensifying debate over land acquisition, with the Narendra Modi government pushing for land banks and claiming shortage of land for industrial projects, and farmer organisations saying this is not so.

As the ministry of rural development- responsible for land records in the country- does not keep data on land banks on grounds that it is a state subject, dna tried to get to the truth by going through various state government reports and presentations available in the public domain.

The documents, which disclose that 30-50 percent of the land acquired by states is unused, also reveal that major states like Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have acquired over one lakh acres of land in their respective states over the years. They are followed by Rajasthan, where the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation Limited (RIICO) has acquired 74,200.96 acres, and Uttar Pradesh where the Uttar Pradesh Development Corporation Limited (UPSIDC) has acquired 43,855 acres.

Why are the land banks not being used?
Some have not used the entire or a giant portion of the chunk acquired. Like the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC). The Madhya Pradesh government also has a total of 63,005 acres of land available in its land bank.

“There are different reasons for land banks still not being used. Basic amenities like power, water, good rail and road network, all these play an important role before land is bought and state governments have failed to provide them. This is hindering land sales,” an official from the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion told dna.

Will the fight for land banks intensify?
The fight for land banks, the official added, was going to become more intense now. In February-March, the Narendra Modi government had sent a communication to the state governments asking them to develop land banks by the middle of the year. The state governments were told to provide readily available land to accelerate the Make in India project.

“The fact that states would be ranked based on the land available with them has already instilled competition,” the official said.

What are Andhra Pradesh’s land bank plans?
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has taken the lead in announcing that his state would have the biggest land bank in the country. He has asked officials to identify 12 lakh acres of land, one lakh acres in each district, to build the state land bank. Similar plans are being chalked out in other states too. In Karnataka, for instance, the government has initiated action for the acquisition of 1.15 lakh acres, of which 31,000 acres has been notified for development.

What is 2013 land act and 2014 land ordinance?
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 was enacted by parliament during UPA government. The 2013 land act was enacted after a decade of extensive nation-wide consultations, debates and after scrutiny by two parliamentary standing committees, both headed by the BJP. However, the Modi government brought in The Land Ordinance 2014, nullifying the 2013 land act. The ordinance completely alters the basic framework of land act 2013.

Why are farmers opposing land ordinance?
The 2013 land act was a result of long struggle by various people’s movements based on experience of forcible, unfair and unjust land acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act 1894, which was found archaic and unfair by the entire political class and the judiciary. Under the 2013 act, farmers had a role in decision making and were also given the opportunity for rehabilitation. However, with the ordinance these two basic demands are gone.

Who is the beneficiary of the 2014 land ordinance?
As per the provision of the 2014 land ordinance, the private sector is going to benefit the most. The government would acquire land for them and the private sector won’t be liable to rehabilitate those who would be parting away from their land.

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