Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cash Incentives for Officials Who Take Initiative for Land Acquisition

February 2, 2008: West Bengal state government officers are going to receive cash “incentives” if they are able to “locate” land for industrialization. This scheme was first started experimentally in Singur, but has now become a routine affair, informed a senior bureaucrat of the land and land reforms department, who wanted to remain anonymous. He informed that Rs 2 million had been distributed among department officials for finding out land for the Tata Motors project in Singur. Now around Rs 650,000 has been distributed amongst officers for locating and acquiring 250 acres of land in Kharagpur for the proposed heavy vehicle manufacturing plant of the Tata-Hitachi joint venture Telcom. Among this, cash incentive of Rs 30, 000 has been received by the land and land reforms department principal secretary Mr. P. K. Agarwal.

According to this unnamed official, this scheme has apparently worked well for the government which is in quite a fix trying to locate land for the proposed industries in the state. Previously, land and land reforms department officials showed scant interest in developing land use maps for the different districts or for finding out the presence of unused land. However, after the cash incentive scheme was started, there is a now a lot of interest in submitting land use maps from the districts and ascertaining the availability of unused lands.

The search for a mechanism to find land for industries was continuing for quite some time. The state trade and industries minister Nirupam Sen and the land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla had met a number of times with the chairman of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and District Magistrates on this issue. Now the cash incentive scheme has been worked out as a successful measure to induce government officials to take the initiative in finding land for industrialization.

Seikh Sadar Nayim, Dainik Statesman, 2nd Feb, 2008. Translated by Partho Sarathi Ray, Sanhati