Special Correspondent

Industries Minister defends land bank scheme

‘Land acquired even when not sought by industries'

Minister says it was done to meet future requirements

BANGALORE: Following demand from the Opposition members, Legislative Council Chairman Veeranna Mathikatti on Wednesday announced that he would allow a special discussion in the Upper House on the issue of acquisition of farm land by the Government for various projects.

Earlier, a heated argument took place between the Opposition and the ruling members on the issue of land acquisition during Question Hour when Large and Medium Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani defended the State Government's land bank scheme under which farm land was acquired in advance for the future industrial use.

The Opposition members alleged that the Government was indiscriminately acquiring farm land. Janata Dal (S) member Y.S.V. Datta alleged that huge tracts of farm land had been acquired even in districts like Chikmagalur where no industry had sought land. They suspected that real estate interests were involved in such acquisition.

Responding to this, Mr. Nirani said land was being acquired in advance in some areas for the future requirement of industries. He claimed that Tata Motors was searching for a suitable place to locate its Nano car manufacturing unit after deciding against continuing in West Bengal and could not come to Karnataka as the State was not in a position to acquire more than 1,000 acres of land at a fast pace for the car project.

“It was possible to get Tata Motors to Karnataka if the State had a land bank by then,” the Minister said. He claimed that such a land bank scheme had helped in convincing Hero Honda motors to set up their unit in Karnataka as the State could provide them land within 24 hours.

He maintained that fertile land was not being acquired by the Government for any industrial projects and that suitable compensation, including jobs, were being provided to land-losing farmers. However, the Opposition members were not convinced with his reply. They alleged that large tracts of agricultural land was being acquired in various districts. They alleged that the Government was using land acquisition as a weapon to threaten farmers and to benefit real estate lobby.

Denying these allegations, the Minister said nearly 3,000 acres of farm land which had been acquired by the Government was being returned to farmers. He launched a counter attack at the Janata Dal (Secular) by alleging that farm land had been acquired at several places in Hassan district when Janata Dal (S) leader H.D. Deve Gowda was the Chief Minister. This resulted in heated exchange of words between the ruling and the Opposition members.

When the argument never seemed to end, the Chairman announced that a special discussion would be allowed on the issue.