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No yardstick for industrial land allocation in tribal areas

india Updated: Nov 28, 2007 22:51 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik
Soumyajit Pattnaik
Hindustan Times
yardstick

Anti-industry movements in tribal areas have gained momentum, especially with no uniform policy on the allocation of land for industries in the state.



The

Hindustan Times

carried out a reality check on project costs, capacities and land requirements of several big steel and aluminium plants coming up in the state. For example, both South Korean steel major Posco and Arcelor-Mittal have signed MoUs with the Orissa government for constructing 12 million tonne per annum (MTPA) steel projects in the state.



Although the capacities for both the Posco and Arcelor-Mittal projects are same, Posco has asked for 4,000 acres of land, while Arcelor-Mittal has asked for 8,000 acres.



Similarly, Aditya Alumina (Hindalco) has signed a MoU with the state government to set up a 2,049-acres project in Rayagada district at an investment of Rs 5,000 crore. But the Vedanta Alumina project in Lanjigarh block of Kalahandi district with a lower investment of Rs 4,000 crore has asked for more land than Aditya Alumina. Vedanta wants 2,278 acres. Discrepancies like this are endless.



Industries minister Biswa Bhushan Harichandan told

Hindustan Times

, "There is no fixed criteria on how land is allocated to the industries. Technical experts fix land requirements after going through project proposals."



Bhakta Charan Das, convenor of Green Kalahandi, which is spearheading the agitation against Vedanata Alumina's plant in Kalahandi, said: "Vedanta has asked for excess land and the same has been granted by the state government. Excess land results in extra displacement play a crucial role in anti-industry protests. Land requirement in some cases are being decided in an arbitrary manner."



A senior official involved with land acquisition said: "We asked Arcelor-Mittal officials why they need 8,000 acres when Posco was setting up a similar project on 4,000 acres. They told us that since the MoU has already signed to hand over 8,000 acres of land to Arcelor-Mittal, we should stop raising any further questions."



Sources in Arcelor-Mittal said, "There is no excess demand for land. As per the MoU, 6,000 acres would be required for the plant, 1,000 acres for the captive power plant and another 1,000 acre for the township."



The draft National Tribal Policy circulated by the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 2006 provides answers on why companies seek excess land to set up industries especially in tribal areas. "Since tribal land is generally non-transferable, the land markets are underdeveloped and the cost of acquiring land in tribal areas is extremely low, the rate of compensation is inadequate, usually based on national market value. The difference in the cost of acquisition of the lands and the subsequent value of the land in the zone of influence after implementation of the project is enormous. The value of the property goes up substantially due to direct/ indirect downstream benefits from the project. This encourages the tendency to acquire land in excess of the requirement," the draft policy says.

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