The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Govt mulls agency to monitor land use

Calcutta, Sept. 4: The land and land reforms department plans to form a corporation to check the misuse of land leased to investors and even government undertakings.

A plot crunch and an increasing demand for land has made the government wake up to the need to keep tabs on how investors were using them.

“Even government departments are making a beeline for land. For instance, the tourism department came up with a proposal to build tourist bungalows in tea gardens. We want a tighter supervision of such land,” a senior official said.

The land reforms act allows the formation of an agency — such as the proposed West Bengal Land Development Corporation — to manage government land.

“But it was never thought of before. It is only in view of the current situation, where land is rapidly running out of our hands, that we are thinking about it,” the official said.

Vast tracts of industrial land in Kalyani and Haringhata, which had been allotted to investors, are lying unutilised for years.

Another investor, who got over 100 acres in Murshidabad for a sugar mill, ultimately built a farmhouse and fishery there.

The government now ensures that investors outline the purpose of acquiring the land, but there is no mechanism to make sure what is happening there a few years down the line.

The corporation will introduce time-bound clauses, according to which plots might be taken back if they are not used properly.

The government might also be a partner in the project to “stop mismanagement of plots” by investors.

An official said the corporate entity would also be able to participate directly in joint ventures with government agencies like the Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation.

However, more care has to be taken while dealing with “individual investors” rather than government undertakings”, the official added.

A draft of the land department’s proposal has been sent to the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

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