The state government would float the option of direct purchase to the Salim Group for obtaining land for its chemical hub and SEZs. Instead of acquiring land for the industrialists, it would prefer industrialists buying land directly from the farmers. The government has already launched this formulae for iron and steel projects of Jindal, Bhusan Steel and Balaji.
The history of acqusition in the state in the recent times has been bitter and bloody. While Singur has given a lot of hitches, the rumour of land acquisition in Nandigram for the chemical hub has resulted in several deaths.
Wiser after Singur and Nandigram, the state government is projecting “direct purchase” as a viable formula for industrialists, scouting land for their projects. In fact, they are planning to keep this option open for Salim’s SEZs, township, Barasat-Raichak road, bridge and other projects.
Principal Secretary of Commerce and Industry Sabyasachi Sen said at Writers’ Buildings today that “direct purchase is a valid option for all projects, including that of Salim.” He also said that Government of India was also thinking on these lines.
At the same time Sen made it clear that there is no hard and fast rule in the agreement with the Salim Group that the entire land (10,000 acres for chemical hub and 12,500 acres for multi product SEZ)would have to be handed over at one go, on the first year of the project. As per the agreement, the project span is 15 years and Dr Sen said that a portion of the land can be handed over even on the15th year, hinting on staggered acquisition.
Land and Land Reforms minister AbdurRezaak Mollah, earlier in the day, has extended welcome to direct purchase over government acquisition, since possibility of resistance is much less.
According to Dr Sen, direct purchase is far more peaceful than acquisition. It is an understanding between the buyer and the seller, where the latter would have to agree to the price offered by the former. However, the government can play the pivotal role of building up a consensus and convincing the seller that his economic interests won’t be hampered.
The principal secretary said that at the same time government would consider having the ownership rights of the project in its own hand, only giving lessee right to the developer.