PM relaxes land transfer norms to speed up infra projects

All cases of land transfer from ministries to statutory authorities or public sector undertakings (PSUs) will be allowed without the need for Cabinet approval

New Delhi: Apparently unhappy over delays in infrastructure projects on account of procedures, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday relaxed norms for transfer of government land to any other entity to remove bottlenecks and speed up public-private partnership (PPP) projects, reports PTI.
According to the Prime Minister's decision which marks lifting of a ban imposed last year, all cases of land transfer from ministries to statutory authorities or public sector undertakings (PSUs) will be allowed, subject to the requirements of normal Government of India rules.
The decision will do away with the requirement of Cabinet approvals which was leading to long delays in awarding concessions for infrastructure projects, particularly PPP ones in sectors like road, railways, civil aviation, ports and metro rail.
"Requiring Cabinet approval for each PPP project meant adding a few months to complete the processes for securing Cabinet approval," a PMO statement said.
"The Prime Minister approved relaxations in the land transfer policy of the government for government-owned lands so that infrastructure projects are not held up because of procedural delays," it said.
The decision to relax norms would speed up the award of PPP projects from this month onwards significantly, it said.
Among the categories for which the ban has been relaxed are all cases of land transfer on lease or rent or license to a concessionaire which have been appraised through the PPP Approval Committee route and approved by the Finance Minister or by the Ministers concerned or by the Cabinet, as the case may be, depending upon the value of the project.
Development and use of railway land by Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) as per provisions of Railways Amendment Act, 2005 and the Rules framed thereunder and in accordance with the prevalent policies and guidelines of the Railway Ministry and the Government will also be covered by the new decision.
Early last year, a ban had been imposed on all transfer of government owned land to any entity except in cases where land was to be transferred from one government department to another, the PMO statement said.
The Department of Economic Affairs was to prepare a comprehensive land transfer policy for government owned land.
In case any department had to implement a project which required alienation of land either through lease, license or rent, it had to seek specific approval of the Cabinet.
This was leading to long delays in awarding concessions for infrastructure projects, particularly PPP projects, the statement said.
All PPP infrastructure projects - roads, railways, ports, civil aviation and metros - have some element of land alienation as the projects are often built on government owned land.
The government continues to own the land which is leased or licensed out.


It is not the deficit; it is the timely rainfall that matters

Over the past century, India has been receiving an average rainfall of 75% and above, yet we witnessed several droughts. The reasons? Rainfall has been sporadic in most parts of the country and we still do not know how to make use of every single drop of water

The southwest monsoon has never ditched India. History tells us that since 1901, India has always received an average 75% of rains during the monsoon season spread between June and September. Even during the drought years of 1899, 1818, 1972 and 2009, the average rainfall was above 75%. Unfortunately, the rainfall, which has always been sporadic in most parts of the country, with few showers followed by a long dry spell, is the main reason for worry.
In fact, the worry-lines have deepened incrementally because of monsoon inactivity. It can pressure food inflation, which is already running in double digits and could enhance the stickiness of headline inflation at a time of poor economic growth. 
Cumulative rains during the first two months of this year, between 1st June and 31st July, were 19% below normal levels. Spatially, most parts of the country have received deficient to scanty rainfall. The northwest, which is India's grain belt, has received 37% less-than-normal rainfall. Though 94% of this region is irrigated, the low water level in the reservoirs will limit the extent to which canal irrigation can compensate for deficient rains.


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