Bowing to the demand made by opposition and some members of the ruling party, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy today agreed to form a high-level committee to review the allocation of large tracts of land for some private ports in the State.

Replying to a debate on the subject in the Assembly, the Chief Minister also promised to frame new guidelines based on the recommendations of the expert committee for allotment of land to ports and other infrastructure projects.

“There has been an uneven allocation of land for various private ports in the State. We will review all such deals and rectify the mistakes,” Mr. Kiran assured the House.

The issue was raised by Lok Satta Party president N Jayaprakash Narayan, who said over 23,000 acres of land was allocated to Ras-al-Khaimah (a United Arab Emirate nation) in Prakasam and Guntur districts in the name of Vadarevu and Nizampatnam Ports and Industrial Corridor (Vanpic).

“The largest port in the country, Cochin, is located in an area of only 36 km while other major ports like Mumbai and Visakhapatnam are spread over 13 km each. Singapore, the world’s largest port, was spread over only 480 hectares of land. But the AP government has given away exclusive rights to one private management for two ports on a whopping 348 km area,” Mr. Jayaprakash pointed out.

Contending that the State government did not have the authority to create such an exclusive zone without approval of the central government, he demanded immediate review of the memorandum of understanding signed with Vanpic management and also the allocation of large tracts of land.

Congress MLAs Gottipati Ravi Kumar and Gade Venkata Reddy too found fault with allocation of over 23,000 acres of land to Vanpic in the name of ports and industrial development.

“Thousands of acres of fertile land in Prakasam district was acquired for port and industrial development but not a single project came up so far,” Mr. Ravi Kumar said.

Mr. Gade said the private companies were mortgaging the land allotted to them (for projects) and furthering their business interests.

The senior Congress MLA demanded that a Legislative Committee be constituted to probe into the affairs of the private companies that obtained land from the government.

Praja Rajyam Party MLA K Kanna Babu questioned how the government permitted the Machilipatnam port developer to mortgage government-allotted land.

Telugu Desam MLA Dhulipalla Narendra Kumar questioned how long would the State government take to identify and handover required land to a central Government company for setting up the second major port and shipyard in the State.

Minister for Infrastructure and Ports Komatireddy Venkat Reddy said the National Shipping Board had inspected two locations, Nakkapalli in Visakhapatnam district and Ramayampet in Prakasam district, for the major port and shipyard.

“We are assisting the NSB in this regard. Once they finalise the location and inform us, we will handover the land to them,” he added.

The Chief Minister summed up the hour-long debate assuring the members that a committee of experts would review all the land allocations and suggest appropriate measures to the government.

“We will frame new guidelines accordingly,” Mr. Kiran added.