Time for India to rethink on land use for nation's prosperity
And finally, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday has approved the formation of National Land Monetisation Corporation (NLMC) as a wholly owned company of the government of India to fast-track the monetisation of land and non-core assets of public sector entities.
And finally, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday has approved the formation of National Land Monetisation Corporation (NLMC) as a wholly owned company of the government of India to fast-track the monetisation of land and non-core assets of public sector entities. NLMC will undertake monetisation of surplus land and building assets of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and other Government agencies. So far, the CPSEs have referred 3,400 acres of land and other non-core assets for monetisation from CPSEs comprising Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), B&R, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), BEML Limited, HMT Ltd among others.
Mind you that many economists have been saying that land usage policy and the acquisition process in India are big impediments to growth and development. Several big projects-private or public, are trapped for the land acquisition. The forest and tribal land doesn't permit productive usage of mineral resources. The development of tribal belt is stagnant due to restrictions on the private transfer of tribal land. India must resolve these problems through appropriate policies and regulations in the public interest. That will boost overall investment, particularly in the infrastructure, core sector, mineral and energy and thus boost GDP growth and reduce poverty ratio.
Monetisation of non-core assets envisages unlocking of value of these thus far unutilised or under-utilised assets and generate returns on the equity that the government has invested in them. The new entity will work as an asset manager for lands owned by the Union government and CPSE. What the government has done now is certainly a right step in the right direction, but it shouldn't stop here. As economist and author RP Gupta points out, India is having about 16 per cent share of the world population as against 2.6 per cent share of land causing land deficit. Hence, India must ensure productive and efficient usage of land for the nation's prosperity. Total land in India is about 3.30 million square KM and its' approximate usage and classification is: agriculture-27 per cent, forest-21.5 per cent, water bodies, rivers, lakes- 11 per cent, desert-6.7 per cent, coastal border-0.5 per cent, island & misc-0.3 per cent.
Out of balance 33 per cent land, industry & mines (including plantation, residential colonies and related structures) might occupy below 2 per cent. The growth of mines and industries has been highly compromised and converted India as an import hub of the mineral, energy and the manufactured goods. Even the public infrastructures are also facing problems. Significantly, nearly 10 per cent of forest land has dense forest, about 50 per cent is having moderate forest and about 40 per cent of forest land has nominal or nil trees. It is not prudent choice while keeping the scattered and thin forest that too, in the small patches. India must shift thin and moderate forests and develop dense forests in a planned manner. India should release about 7-8 per cent of the forest land (About 2 per cent of Country land) for the productive usage without affecting the total dense green cover. Such land must be directly added to the "Land bank" of government.
And then agro productivity per acre in India is below 50 per cent unlike many countries. This can be boosted through investment in technology and irrigation infrastructure. Thus, the part of agro land can be released for other productive usage without compromising the agro production with judicious compensation to farmers. Little wonder therefore that economists like Gupta would like the Centre to address these issues in the next step.