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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

‘State should amend rule, reduce lock-in for industrial land to 15 years’

The report has also said that the government gazette must mention that land notification will automatically lapse after 15 years.

mumbai Updated: Mar 30, 2018 23:26 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times

A lock-in period of nearly 35 years for land notified for industrial use and discretionary use of powers by ministers seems to be at the crux of the controversy and alleged industrial land denotification scam.

The one-man committee led by former bureaucrat KP Bakshi in his report submitted to the state government on March 21 has called for an amendment to rule 30 of the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation Act, 1962, to reduce the lock-in period to 15 years. It has also sought curtailing of use of discretionary powers to decide on such denotifications.

“This rule allows government nearly 35 years to decide and even denotify after the land is notified for industrial use. That is too long a period, almost a generation for a farmer, who continues to be uncertain about the status of his land. The report has recommended this be reduced to 15 years after which the land will be deemed to have been denotified,” said Bakshi.

The report has also said that the government gazette must mention that land notification will automatically lapse after 15 years.

The Bakshi committee was set up in August 2017 by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to probe denotification of industrial lands in Maharashtra from 2002 to 2017. The probe committee was set up, following allegations of graft against industries minister Subhash Desai for denotifying industrial land in Igatpuri taluka (Nashik) to favour a private developer.

The report has revealed that nearly 32,000 hectares was denotified in this period over 160 cases by former industries ministers. In more than 95 of these cases, ministers used discretionary powers, often overruling opinion of the department, to denotify the land.

The denotification of industrial land is controversial because it allows opening up of prime land adjoining cities earmarked for industry. While technically this land is supposed to go back to the original user, generally farmers, often the land instead gets bought by private developers. This raises questions over the motivation of denotification of industrial lands.

“The rule was amended in 2009 to increase the time period for denotification from 20 years to 35 years. This gives enough leverage and scope for mischief,” said a senior official from the industries department.

The report has also pointed out that in a majority of cases a ground-level survey before notifying lands is not carried out with due diligence.

“I have recommended that the team (of officials) must go to the site and carry out a plot-wise survey before notifying any land for industrial use. And such an exercise must be followed by ‘chawdi vacchan’, where officials read out the entire survey numbers at a village square to avoid harassment of farmers later,” added Bakshi. Such an exercise can give farmers clarity and opportunity to challenge the notification at the right time.

Box :

What does the Bakshi report say?

32,000 hectares of land denotified over 15 years through 160 cases

A majority of such cases were carried out by former industries minister Narayan Rane, followed by his successor Subhash Desai

In a majority of the cases, denotification was done using discretionary powers

How are industrial lands notified?

The state government has powers to identify land required for industrial use and notify it. The land thus earmarked through a survey is deemed to be fit for industrial use and the owner has to give possession of this land in exchange for a compensation decided by the government

Once notified, the owner can’t transfer or sell his land even if it is not formally acquired by the industries department

The department can denotify land even after 35 years of first notifying it.

First Published: Mar 30, 2018 23:26 IST