Govt cuts through red tape to lay red carpet for corporates

Amendment to laws may help industries buy land and hoard it too

The State government seems to be making it all easy for corporates to buy land, bypassing the “cumbersome” processes of the past. This is seen as a move to woo major multinational companies to the State.
The State Cabinet recently paved the way for 18 industry projects to acquire land without the usual hassles.

First, by amending Section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, and Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, for industries to purchase land. Second, by clearing the industry projects at the meeting of the State High Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC).

‘Free hand’

Doing a U-turn on his previous statements of ensuring safety of farmland, the decision of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has virtually given a ‘free hand’ to industries to purchase conducive land in the open market.

Sources said the companies whose projects have been cleared by the SHLCC will take shelter under the newly amended Acts to buy land in the open market and not depend on the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) or the government to provide them land.

While the Cabinet note suggests that the previous process of purchasing land under Section 109 of the 1961 Act and conversion of land under Section 95 of the 1964 Act were two separate activities and cumbersome, it was nonetheless a mechanism that kept a check on the use and extent of land purchased by private parties.

The relaxation of norms by the Cabinet may now encourage industries to go on a large-scale acquisition spree to hoard land for future ‘possible’ expansions, said a few government officials. 

Approvals

Justifying that there are certain checks and balances to control rampant land acquisitions, sources in the Commerce and Industries department said that under the newly amended laws, the companies will provide the survey numbers and the village names to the government where they want the land to be acquired. The government will then look into the land records, the City Development Project (CDP) zoning and then provide the requisite approvals. 

“For industries, the biggest hassle was the running around for approvals under two separate laws. Our intention was to clear the road for these industries to start their projects fast,” said Tushar Girinath, in-charge secretary for Commerce and Industries department. 

It is said that the primary concern of the department was acquiring those portions of land which are under industrial zoning as per the CDP, but in the possession of farmers. With the new norms, industries can directly approach the farmers and procure the land.

Land acquisitions

Officials state that for the 18 new projects, the government is considering providing 30 per cent of the required land through the KIADB where the land acquisitions are completed and the rest 70 per cent are to be purchased by the companies under the new amendments.

Officials say that of the 18 projects, only one project of Mysore Logistics in Anekal has been approved. The others are awaiting clearances at various levels of the government.

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