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Construction : Web Exclusive | January 2013 | Source : Construction Update

Centre mulls Authority to monetise unutilised land

With an objective to take over all under-utilised and unused government land and monetise them, the Union government is pushing a plan to set up a Land Authority of India. Setting up of such Authority is expected to bring a windfall of an estimated Rs 1 lakh crore that can give succour to the country's burgeoning fiscal deficit.

The proposal for a national body, which has to pass muster with a lot of government bodies that have occupied prime land but have put them to little use was put forth by the Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath last month, and has been discussed among other key ministries that include the Finance Ministry as well as the Prime Minister's Office.

Nath told a leading business newspaper that surplus land across the country with bodies such as CPWD, DDA, Railways, Defence, public sector undertakings and other government agencies can be put in the sale basket.

All the land will vest, by a notification, in the Land Authority of India. Let them sell it, Nath said. This can help us raise over Rs 1 lakh crore in six months and help us rein in the fiscal deficit," he said.

The policy, the minister said, "should be to either utilise the land or sell it". A scarcity of land has led to the price of land shooting up across the country.

In March last year, the government had budgeted a fiscal deficit of Rs 5.14 lakh crore, or 5.1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), for the fiscal year 2012-2013. The Union Urban Development Minister has proposed that the authority should be chaired by the finance secretary, and the last three CVOs and CAGs should act as its members. Huge tracts of land that currently are under government civic bodies such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and Cental Public Works Department, among others, have been encroached upon.

The Urban Development Ministry is learnt to have recently written to an agency, which occupies a big tract of land in central Delhi that they could risk forfeiture if the land is not redeveloped efficiently within a certain time limit. According to official estimates, close to 60 sick PSUs in the country together hold about 20,000 hectare of vacant land.

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