Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Centre asks states not to touch agriculture land


To avoid future confrontation with farmers over land acquisition for industrial purposes, the Centre has asked state governments to work on creation of an industrial land bank of available waste and fallow lands, leaving aside productive agricultural land.

At the first conference of state industry ministers in New Delhi, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma proposed that the Centre and the state should work together on preparation of guidelines for creation of the land bank.

“Farmers should not be victims of industrialisation. They should be partners in the process,” Mr Sharma said in his address to state ministers.

Interestingly, industry ministers from Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa—the states that have witnessed a lot of local agitation over land acquisition by states for industrial purposes—were not present at the meeting, though they were represented by senior officials.

Arcelor Mittal’s proposed projects for setting up steel plants in Orissa and Jharkhand and Korean steel major Posco’s plans of entering Orissa are held up due to land acquisition problems. Tata had to shift its base for manufacture of its budget car Nano from West Bengal to Gujarat due to agitation by farmers in Singur.

Some states (like Tamil Nadu) have established good practices in respect of planned industrialisation which merit consideration by other states. The minister added that attractive relief and rehabilitation package have to given to people whole land is acquired for industrial purpose.

“Use of farm land for industrial projects should be the last resort,” he said.

Speaking to ET, minister of industry from Madhya Pradesh Kailash Vijayvargiya pointed out that creating a land bank was a good idea and his state was already working on it. “We have already created a land bank and want to work on it further,” he said.

The idea behind the state industry ministers conference, which will now be held annually, is for the Centre and states to come together and jointly sort out problems to make India an attractive destination for investors, both domestic and foreign, Mr Sharma said.

According to DIPP estimates, India would attract FDI worth $50 billion by 2012 which could go up to $100 billion by 2017. If the Centre and states can work in tandem to remove hurdles, it will not be difficult to achieve the target, Mr Sharma said.