Maha govt to auction its land to build roads and dams | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Maha govt to auction its land to build roads and dams

A panel of senior bureaucrats will frame the policy that will decide how vacant plots of land can be used to fund the state’s infrastructure plans

mumbai Updated: Aug 18, 2016 00:32 IST
Manasi Phadke

The Maharashtra government is planning to auction and mortgage its large land bank to fund the building of roads, expressways and dams across the state, without adding to its debt.

Several mega infrastructure projects are in the pipeline, including the Rs30,000-crore Nagpur-Mumbai expressway and many incomplete irrigation projects that could cost up to Rs80,000 crore, a senior government official said.

A panel of senior bureaucrats will frame the policy that will decide how vacant plots of land can be used to fund the state’s infrastructure plans. The policy will also cover infrastructure upgrades - improving the state’s highways and strengthening the power distribution network to cut distribution losses to 8% from 14.6%. The official said the two projects are likely to add a financial burden of nearly Rs70,000 crore.

“If we want rapid infrastructure development, we cannot depend only on debt. There is a limit to how much debt the state government can take,” said Sudhir Mungantiwar, the state’s finance minister. Maharashtra’s latest economic survey report shows the state’s debt has touched Rs3.33 lakh crore.

“Countries like China have also fuelled their aggressive infrastructure development plans by making more effective use of government land. With this approach, the government will not have to burden the people and businesses with levies,” the official said.

This is not the first time the state will use such a model. It has already tried auctioning land to raise funds for infrastructure work within Mumbai through the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). The government has also been mulling auctioning 93 acres of prime land covered by the crumbling Bandra government colony, to not only self-finance the colony’s redevelopment, but to also raise a handsome sum to fill its coffers.

The panel, Mungantiwar said, will first take stock of the total amount of vacant land parcels that are not of any use to the government, and then recommend a policy within the next four months on how they are monetised through auctions or mortgage.

The eight-member committee is led by additional chief secretary of the finance department and comprises secretaries from departments such as revenue and forests, urban development, public works, water resources and energy.