Guwahati, Sept. 21: Lack of land for industrial use in Assam is one of the largest issues impeding industrial development in the state and has effectively held up potential investments worth more than Rs 2,000 crore.
The Federation of Industry and Commerce of North Eastern Region (Finer), the apex industry body of the Northeast, revealed this at a news conference here today and called for timely renewal of the North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIPP) and Assam Industrial Policy to help investors make full use of the policy incentives.
“Finer had collected a list of industrial units awaiting land purchase/sale permissions or land conversion to start operations. Some of these had started work but were impeded by the inability of banks to disburse loans. Some of had started with own funds but were unable to expand. There is investment potential of more than Rs 2,000 crore, involving generation of more that 21,500 jobs,” Finer chairman R.S. Joshi said.
Joshi said the single largest issue impeding investments is non-availability of land for industrial units in the state. He said classification of land and update of land records had not been done for many decades. About 25 per cent of land classified as “agricultural” was actually unsuitable for farming, he added.
“Transfer of private patta land classified as agricultural is restricted though it is otherwise unsuitable for any agricultural activity. This impacts the right of people to own, sell, purchase or transfer personal property,” he said.
Joshi said land not suitable for agriculture or barren, denuded and degraded land had to be put to non-agricultural use. This is essential not only in accordance with the land laws but also under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002, without which banks are unable to disburse loans to industrial units.
Moreover, he said government industrial estates had no space and had long waiting lists. This has hiked prices of private land. “The prices of these plots have become so high that any industry or entrepreneurial activity automatically becomes unviable.”
“We are asking the government to enable creation of industrial hubs in an around major cities of the state,” Joshi said.
Finer treasurer Sandeep Khaitan said 90 industrial units are frustrated over land issues.
Joshi said political efforts should be initiated to create an atmosphere conducive for further extension of the period of NEIIPP, as there were chances that it might not be renewed at all. “Our fears emanate from the fact that the freight subsidy scheme 2013 has been notified for a period of five years with a sunset clause, wherein it has been mentioned that the scheme, which is on from 1971 in different forms, shall necessarily end after five years. Further, similar policies akin to the NEIIPP 2007 have not been extended for Bhuj, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh after expiry of their term.”