Kelkar committee warned that the failure to move briskly would expose the country to a crisis worse than what it had endured in 1991.The report suggested that exploitation of governments assets could play a key role. Although most government departments do not have exhaustive asset register,the assessment is that shipping,defence,posts,airport authority and railways would be sitting on largest land banks.According to estimates,railways alone can monetise around 10,000 acres in urban centres,generating Rs 50,000 crore.Similarly,Ports Trust can monetise around one-fifth of 2.5 lakh acres it owns.
The new land alienation policy may even cover Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Ports Trust that enjoy statutory powers to grant lease on their own. Besides revenue for cashstrapped exchequer,the move will result in the creation of maiden database of government land and identification of surplus land with all public entities,PSUs included.
Sources said finance ministry quickly has moved on the land issue as suggested by Kelkar panel even though it took almost four weeks to dismiss the panels suggestion to
do away with fuel,fertiliser and food subsidy and go slow on proposed food security law.
Officials pointed out the move was follow-up to Ashok Chawla committee on allocation of natural resources that has been under discussion for months.The draft policy lays out procedures for sale of land to cut out arbitrary actions that expose the government to charges of corruption like Cabinet nod for land assessed at over Rs 50 crore.
A Public Sector Land Management Committee comprising top secretaries will be tasked with creation of a database within a year.It would ensure that land records are updated and assess the market value based on floor area ratio,presence of utilities,the development potential and availability of minerals around the site.The government departments would also be asked to boost lands market rate by value addition.
News source: TimesofIndia