THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With a view to facilitate land acquisition for development purposes and make the sellers of land part and parcel of growth, the Revenue Department launched discussions on Tuesday on IIM-K mooted Kerala Infrastructure Bonds. The discussions were held during a workshop held here.
Kicking off the discussions, Revenue Minister Tiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said that the State Government aimed to give a new direction to land acquisition and utilisation, with the involvement of the people.
"At present only the fair value at the point of time of sale is given for the land acquired by the government. With the proposed transferable infrastructure bonds, future appreciation at given intervals will be ensured and the seller of the land will become part of the growth story.
"We have successfully implemented the Moolampally rehabilitation package for evictees of land earmarked for development. The bonds may turn out as a boon for investment in the state,’’ he said.
Addressing the workshop, Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty said that the proposed bonds will augur well for a quantum change in the industrial front. "Land is rare in the state. Land also has a market with scope for investment,’’ he said. "Where do you invest if here is only agricultural land everywhere,’’he asked. He felt that all hurdles in a demarcated area for development should be removed on a fast track.
"There should be a master plan for development. There is little logic if someone sticks to one acre or even ten cents of agricultural land in a Corporation area, when investment or development projects are planned,” he added. Panchayats Minister M K Muneer reminded that making people part and parcel of any development initiative is important and it is to be ensured that those surrendering their land should stand to benefit.
“People are vigilant but not against development if they benefit from it,’’ he said. He said that though the KSTP road development project was the only project in the state where land acquisition was completed within a short span of time, the government was not able to keep its word to construct shopping complexes to rehabilitate displaced traders.
On the issue of agricultural land conversion for non-agricultural purposes, the Revenue Minister said that he personally felt that there were some unscientific provisions in the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, leaving large tracts of land unutilised which could be used for development purposes.
"There is no doubt that paddyfields and wetlands should be protected .But there are many barren areas covered under the Act which could be utilised,’’he said.
Later ,addressing a news conference, the Revenue Minister clarified that in the event of a landowner opting full value of the surrendered land instead of transferable bonds, the market value will be given as in the case of the KSTP project acquisition.
Lacunae of Infrastructure Bonds
One lacunae pointed out by a three-member team of Saji Gopinath, Abhilash Nair and Kaushik about the infrastructure bonds at the workshop was that only the fair price and not market value of land will be taken into account for land acquired. In the Kerala market, the ruling price of land is anywhere in the range higher by 200-300 per cent more than the government fixed fair price value. Also, if any initial amount is paid at the time of the acquisition, bonds will be issued for only the remaining part of the assessed value.
Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Niveditha P Haran, Securities and Exchange Board executive director Ananda Baruha, Finance Principal Secretary V P Joy, Higher Education Principal Secretary K M Abraham, LSG Secretary R K Singh and others took part in the discussions.