Karnataka to ease agri land conversion for smart cities

Karnataka govt to ease agriculture land conversion to attract smart city investors

Representative image. (Photo/Pixabay)

The state government will soon relax the rules governing the conversion of agriculture land to enable ease of doing business to ensure that investors do not face hassles in participating in Karnataka's smart city development programme.

Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar made the announcement at the inauguration of the two-day Smart Cities Investment Summit here on Wednesday.

Noting that land acquisition was the major hurdle in Karnataka, he quoted chief minister to state that the process of purchasing land for industrial and service sector will be simplified.

"As part of that, on Tuesday the cabinet approved an amendment to the Act to purchase land for industry simpler. At present, there are numerous levels of approvals are needed. Once the state's single window agency clears the project, with the land requirement vetted by a committee, it will be deemed to be approved under Section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act," he said.

The other issue, the Chief  Secretary said, is the conversion of agriculture land into non-agriculture land. "That also, very soon, an order will be issued," he said.

Sources in the government said the amendment to agriculture land conversion involves the areas surrounding tier-two cities, especially the smart cities.

"These cities have already become sprawling urban spaces. Conversion of agriculture land in these places takes months and creates hurdles for the industries and foreign agencies that come forward to invest in these cities. The idea is to bring an amendment to make sure that the area that has come under city planning authorities and classified as Yellow Zones can be converted in 15 days," a source said.

However, officials who are in the know said the amendment will me made after taking into confidence those that may not agree with the government's move. "Amendments are necessary as these laws are very old. But it's not going to be easy. The process will take some time," an official said.

Sustainability is key

Principal Secretary of Urban Development Department Anjum Parwez, who spoke at the event, stressed the need for building infrastructure that will be sustainable. "It is not just creating and managing quality infrastructure with farsight, the focus will be on planning a development that will prove to be sustainable," he said.

Consul General of France Marjorie Vanbaelinghem said more than 80 companies were already working in Bengaluru and many others were interested in the smart city project. "In the area of solid waste management, French companies can help Karnataka leap frog and adopt most advanced sustainable solutions instead of repeating the mistakes made by our companies on the way," she said.

Consul General of Denmark Jette Bjerrum and Consul General of Israel to South India Dana Kursh stressed the need to focus on water, which is increasingly becoming scarce due to rapid urbanisation.

Managing Director of Cisco India Daisy Chittilapilly, Ambrish Bakaya of HP Enterprises and officials from KUIDFC took part in the event.

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