It is often wasteland or land not wanted by others, says Dalit body

While the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) claims there is poor response for the plots reserved for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) entrepreneurs at industrial parks here, Dalit entrepreneurs say unfair rules and lackadaisical attitude of the board keep them out.

A KIADB notification says that any layout formed after March 2009, needs to have 22.65 per cent reservation for SC/ ST entrepreneurs. For the regional office of KIADB here, two 40-acre projects at Padubidri and Canara Industrial Estate at Mudipu have 9.35 acres reserved for SC, ST entrepreneurs. With end of notice period three months away, KIADB officials said there was poor response for the reserved land.

“There have been a few phone enquiries, but no application taken. It doesn’t seem like even half of the reserved land will be filled,” said an official, adding that if the reserved land is not claimed by entrepreneurs within six months of the notification (which was published three months ago), the “extent reserved the same will be released to the General category entrepreneurs.”

A look at the occupancy of industrial areas, where reservation has not been implemented, gives evidence of a low penetration of SC/ ST entrepreneurs. The largest of the industrial estates here, Baikampady Industrial Estate, has over 400 companies, with only three SC/ ST entrepreneurs, who claimed the 5 per cent or Rs. 5 lakh rebate during land purchase. All the three run small-scale industries, for which the land allotted by KIADB is less than one acre. In other industrial estates, no Dalit entrepreneur has set up shop or claimed rebate.

For example, Karnad Industrial Estate near Mulki, which has 70 companies; Ganjimatt Export Promotion Industrial Park, which has 27 companies; Mudipu Information Technology Special Economic Zone, which has nine big companies; oil refinery and storage park at Thannirbhavi; the 90-acre industrial estate at Shivalli, Udupi; none of them is home to any SC/ST entrepreneurs, said an official.

‘Messy allocations’

Seeing something amiss in the allocation of reserved land, Raja Naik, president of the Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Karnataka chapter, said, in many cases, the allocation to SC/ STs happened a year later, with a revised price. “For example, in Narasapura, Kolar, the price per acre was Rs. 72 lakh during allocation in General category. A year later, when SC/ ST entrepreneurs were called, the revised price per acre was Rs. 1.40 crore. Most cannot pay that much, and so the land goes back to General category,” he said. Mr. Naik also alleged that the land reserved was “waste land, too rocky making construction difficult, or land not wanted by others”. “Look at Jigni Industrial area in Bangalore. The reserved land is like a Dalit colony in one corner of the estate,” he said.

Low awareness was another reason for the low response. “One notice in a paper isn’t going to reach out to a lot of people. Many are still unaware of the benefits from the government meant for SC and ST. The KIADB is not doing anything to reach out,” Mr. Naik alleged.

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