An old policy to acquire land for industries got a boost recently with two landowners coming forward to offer their plots to the government.
Aao Bihar — an initiative of the government to get land for industries — started with a bang three years ago. But it whimpered because of the lack of positive response from the landowners and the lackadaisical attitude of the government.
The scheme, however, might have a better future with two landowners — from Begusarai and Buxar — recently approaching the industries department to give their property. The department, too, is working hard not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
An official of the industries department said: “The first applicant is Begusarai resident Aditya, a farmer. He has a 30-cottah land along the state highway and wants to sell it for industrial purpose. After receiving his application, we alerted the Begusarai district administration to check his land and verify his documents.”
The second applicant is Basant Singh — a former minister of the state in the Rabri Devi government.
“According to the documents he has submitted, his family has more than 51 acres land which he wants to give for industrial purpose,” said the official.
Singh told The Telegraph that the Buxar district administration had already inspected the land.
“We have more than 100 acres (of which he is offering 51 acres). Our children are not interested in farming, so we would like to sell the land for industrial development,” he said.
Sources in the industries department said if the Aao Bihar scheme could be rejuvenated, other schemes of the government for managing industrial land could also get a shot in the arm. A report of Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India, published on Monday, claimed that low industrial investment was a major impediment to the growth of the state and acquiring land was the main roadblock for development of industries in Bihar.
An official of the department said: “The state has other policies as well — private industrial area policy and the exit policy — for industries. Aao Bihar was the first initiative of the state to get land for industries. If it is a success, we can hope for better days.”
When the scheme was launched in 2010, it got lukewarm response.
“As Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada) was facing a severe land crunch, the scheme was launched to create a land bank for industries. However, only two landowners, from East Champaran and Purnea, had come forward to offer their land,” said a source.
The problem was worsened with the government delaying the formalities.
The source added: “With fresh proposals from two farmers, the department is trying to speed up the process so that the opportunity is not missed.”
According to the scheme, the government would not play any role in negotiating the rate of the land. The landowners would decide it.
The scheme also has provisions to protect the interest of the investors so that they are not exploited by landowners at the time of the deal. The landowners have to stick to the price they quote for six months at least.
“There is no change in the scheme. We hope to get more applications from landowners so that we can make a land bank for industries,” another official of the industries department.