N.J. Nair

Delay attributed to government’s indecision on land acquisition

High-power committee defers decision

Another round of discussion in LDF soon

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The delay on the part of the government in taking a decision on land utilisation is understood to have rendered uncertain the fate of three major industrial proposals in Kochi and Kozhikode. These projects, if approved, are expected to generate a number of job opportunities and draw substantial investment to the State.

Official sources told The Hindu here that a high-power committee headed by the Chief Minister to clear investment proposals above Rs.100 crore that met here last week could not arrive at a consensus on approving the projects. This was mainly on account of objections raised by the Revenue and Agriculture departments over the acquisition, conversion and reclamation of land once used for agriculture purposes. The proposals included those for setting up two high-tech cities in Kochi and utilisation of land of Mavoor Rayons in Kozhikode.

The 11-member committee comprising Ministers and secretaries to various departments was formed to clear pending proposals and recommend action to expedite their execution in a time-bound manner.

The third meeting of the committee is understood to have deferred a decision on the proposals and reached an understanding to hold another round of discussion in the LDF before giving the nod.

There were complaints that the high-power committee, constituted as a single-point clearance mechanism, had met only twice since its inception and hence the third meeting was expected to take up all pending proposals.

The heads of the Industries, Finance and Power departments are understood to have argued the case for assessing the merit of the proposals and clearing them without delay. While the neighbouring States are offering sops to prospective entrepreneurs, the reticence to provide basic facilities, including licences, will have a debilitating effect on the industrialisation drive, it was felt.

The poor FDI arrivals in the State of just around Rs.10 crore compared to figures running to lakhs of crores in other States too were reported to have been cited to stress the need for catalysing the process.

But the Revenue Department expressed its reservation against taking action without another round of detailed discussion. The proposal to grant concessions to prospective investors in the Kerala Land Reforms Act will once again be discussed at various levels and then come before the committee.