Andhra Pradesh drafts new land allotment policy

Proposes allotment at market price except in cases where land is to be used for non-profit public purpose

 
By M Suchitra
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Faced with strong criticism over indiscriminate allotment of land to industries and other projects in the past few years, the Andhra Pradesh government has changed its land allotment policy. The draft policy,  prepared by the state revenue department, underscores the need for “scientific and judicious allotment of government land”. The draft  been circulated to all political parties for comments. Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy is going to hold an all-party meeting in a few days to finalise the policy.

The draft of the Andhra Pradesh Land Allotment Policy of 2011 notes that at present there are no uniform guidelines on how much land is to be allotted for different sectors like industries, information and technology, housing and education, and the cost to be charged for the allotted land. Further, there is no mechanism at present to effectively monitor whether the land is utilised within the prescribed time and for the purpose it was allotted. In recent years, the government has mobilised resources either through sales or through auction of government lands, observes the draft.

Policy provides for post-allotment monitoring
  • Single window clearance system for all land allotments
  • A new body—the Andhra Pradesh Land Management Authority (APLMA)—will be formed to oversee allotment of land for different uses and formulation of a mechanism for enforcing environmental and zonal regulations
  • For the first time, a mechanism to monitor land post allocation has been proposed
  • All allotments, except those for non-profit public purposes, shall be on market value recommended by the district collector and a nine-member empowered committee headed by chief commissioner of land administration
  • The market value will be fixed according to the guidelines and rules of land acquisition The land allotments already made shall be reviewed by the APLMA
 
'Policy will curb allotment of excess land'

“We don’t want to have a Haryana-like situation in Andhra,”says state revenue minister N Raghuveera Reddy. There, he says, all government lands have been exhausted and the government is forced to buy land from private parties when it needs land. “Land is a scarce natural resource that should be utilised very carefully.” He points out that in the absence of a clear-cut policy, allotted land far exceeds the actual requirement. Allotments have been made on liberal or vague conditions, making it difficult for the government to take back the land when terms and conditions are violated. “The government therefore feels that there is a need to revisit the existing policy and guidelines,” says the minister.

To streamline land allotments, the policy proposes a single window clearance system and all allotments will be based on market price (see 'Policy provides for post-allotment monitoring').

While all political parties welcome the move to notify a new land allotment policy, many like S Malla Reddy, national vice president of  CPI(M)-affiliated All-India Kisan Sabha, say the proposed policy is inadequate to address issues related to large-scale land acquisition in the state.

Will it help the displaced?

A report prepared by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2010 estimates one million hectares (ha) of farm land has been allotted for different purposes since 2004. As much as 80,000 hectares (ha) of agricultural land has been allotted to industries, special economic zones (SEZs) and ports and 300,000  ha to irrigation projects. Between 2002 and 2007, about 90,000 ha of agricultural land across 25 mandals in and around Hyderabad have been diverted for real estate speculation and mega projects.

“In many cases socially and economically backward communities who live in and use the assigned government lands for cultivation are forced to surrender their land for allotting the land to industries,” he points out. Though the policy says allotments in the recent years would be reviewed, it will be done by the APLMA, a government body. “The agency can be easily manipulated. Reviews need to be done by an independent body,” says Reddy. Some of the land allotments made by the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation are being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

According to the chief minister, the new policy will make land allotments transparent.  He also says industry investments worth Rs 300,000 crore is in the pipeline for the next two years. Both the chief minister and the revenue minister make it clear that the state would continue to give land at concessional rate to the industries and special economic zones “ if they contribute to the development and provide job opportunities.”

In 2005, for the mega irrigation programme Jalayagnam, the government had issued an order (GO NO 68) on a comprehensive rehabilitation  and resettlement (R&R) scheme. The new land allotment policy claims the irrigation department is following that R&R scheme and asks all departments to follow that order in “letter and spirit without exception”.

But as Malla Reddy points out, even the irrigation department is not in a position to implement the government order on R&R  because of the magnitude of displacement. Though the government has formed an R&R Commissioner office, it lacks proper infrastructure facilities to function effectively.

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