T. Ramakrishnan

The idea is to make them stakeholders in the Board's projects

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Housing Board has mooted a new land policy for housing with an attractive package to landowners.

The idea is to make landowners stakeholders in the Board's projects, says an official. By providing reasonable compensation to landowners, the Board intends to encourage them to part with their land. The Board has sent a proposal to the Government. It has been formulated in the wake of controversies over land acquisition at Singur and Nandigram, West Bengal. A few months ago, the State too witnessed strong opposition from the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's ally, the Pattali Makkal Katchi, to the move to establish a satellite town near Chennai.

Eventually, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi scrapped the project. The Chennai airport expansion project too is facing resistance from some residents of the areas that are likely to be affected.

The official says Rajasthan and Haryana have framed a new policy on land acquisition. The Board's proposal envisages allotment of prime property, residential or commercial, to landowners at concessional rates or mutually agreed terms as part of the compensation package.

At present, the acquisition is done under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Though time-tested, the Act needs to be revised to avoid delay in view of rapid urbanisation. The authorities are also keen that the process of acquisition be completed within a shorter timeframe. Another reason for the policy is that the Board is keen on creating a "land bank" for its projects that essentially target the middle class and weaker sections.

The high economic growth in the last three-four years has created a huge demand for land, as the corporate sector, especially information technology companies, wants to set up facilities in advantageous locations. A large number of private promoters have entered real estate. This has pushed up the land cost. Unlike in the past, landowners are not favourably inclined to give their land for government schemes. All these make the Board's schemes difficult to implement.

The policy will also address the Board's other problem of preserving its property.