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Industry to chug along rail track
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New Delhi, Aug. 14: The Congress-led government will bring before the Union cabinet a proposal to acquire 150km of land on either side of the Delhi-Mumbai freight corridor.

This comes at a time when the issue of farm land for industry is creating a chasm between rural and urban India. The cabinet is scheduled to meet on Thursday to clear the proposal to develop the 1,480km corridor.

For setting up industrial regions along the corridor, the plan is to follow the guidelines for special economic zones (SEZs).

Top finance ministry officials said the plan, called Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, could be replicated for the Delhi-Calcutta corridor.

However, there will be fewer industrial zones between Delhi and Calcutta as the rail corridor will pass through Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where policy-makers expect opposition to land acquisition.

“The Delhi-Mumbai Investment Corridor plan is listed for discussion by the cabinet on August 16 but may be cleared later as there are differences of opinion,” officials said. The rail corridor linking Delhi and Maharashtra will pass through Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.

Regarding land acquisition, the proposal will pass muster in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat but is likely to face opposition in Haryana and Maharashtra.

There will be six industrial regions of 200 sq km each and six industrial zones of 100 sq km each along the corridor.

The project will be partially funded by yen-dominated bonds to be issued by the government for subscription by Japanese entities.

A monitoring panel will be set up for the project, headed by the Prime Minister. It will also comprise some cabinet ministers and chief ministers of the six states.

This apex body will oversee the functioning of the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor which will be registered as a corporate body with a corpus of Rs 1,000 crore and a 49 per cent equity contribution from the government.

Other stake holders will be infrastructure companies and financial institutions.

Corporate structures will also be created for the industrial regions and industrial zones. These entities will have a subservient status to the corporate body. Existing SEZs in the path of the corridor will become part of the new regions and zones.

The officials said the guidelines being prepared for SEZs, both for operations and land acquisition, would be applicable to entities along the corridor. “These guidelines will also be used for product- specific regions like the petro-chemical hub to be set up in Haldia,” officials said.

All the land in these industrial regions need not be acquired by the state as was done in the case of SEZs, bringing with it problems of land acquisition.

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