Now, PPP projects can't take off sans required land

In a major policy decision, Karnataka has decided that no infrastructure project involving public-private partnership (PPP) will be considered for implementation if a minimum 70% of the required land is not available.  

The move will impact PPP infrastructure projects worth Rs 1.68 lakh crore in the pipeline in agriculture, energy, health, IT-telecom, tourism, logistics and other sectors.

These include big-ticket projects such as creation of National Investment and Management Zones (NMIZs) and Disneyland in
Bengaluru.  

In fact, the government has projected this move as a “risk mitigation measure” in the PPP Policy for Infrastructure Projects 2018, which was cleared earlier this year and is now ready for implementation.

“The government shall put in place appropriate process to expedite land acquisition. However, prior to tendering of any infrastructure project, minimum 70% of the required land for the project should be available for implementation. If the land available is less than 70%, the project will not be put to tender,” the policy states. This clause was missing in the 2015 and 2007 versions of the
policy.

“It’s a logical move,” Additional Chief Secretary DV Prasad, who earlier headed the Infrastructure Development department, said. “We don’t want people to just come and get projects cleared without the required land available.”

The decision assumes significance also in the wake of several lift irrigation schemes such as Singatalur and road works, civic infrastructure works in urban areas among many others stuck due to unavailability of
land.

Recently, Water Resources Minister D K Shivakumar admitted that big-ticket irrigation projects, including Yettinahole and Upper Krishna, had run into land acquisition trouble.

The minimum land clause, Prasad explained, was an extension of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which makes it mandatory for PPP projects to have prior consent of 70% landowners from whom land is to be acquired.

“If you go back to projects that were taken up through the Karnataka Udyog Mitra, we always insisted on project proponents to first acquire sufficient land or get consent from landowners,” he
said.

With the rejigged PPP policy for infrastructure projects, the government has increased the single-window sanction limit to Rs 500 crore from the existing Rs 50 crore. The policy also prescribes interventions to ensure better implementation of
projects.

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