Economy

Assocham urges govt to acquire non-cultivable land for industry

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on July 29, 2011 Published on July 29, 2011

‘Only 3% of landmass in Bengal fit for agriculture'

Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) has said that the West Bengal government should acquire non-cultivable land to attract big-ticket investments into the State.

The chamber urged Ms Mamata Banerjee-led government to set up a single-window agency to settle land acquisition issues, affecting investments in the State.

‘Fallow land galore'

“The State has a large chunk of non-cultivable land which can be used for industrial purposes. The State government should acquire such land and develop it for facilitating industrial growth,” Mr D.S. Rawat, secretary general, said on the sidelines of a press meet on Thursday. The apex chamber also released a paper on ‘Strategy to boost economic growth in West Bengal'.

As per chamber estimates, only about three per cent of the total land in the State could be used for agricultural purposes. “Assocham appreciates the State government's stand of not acquiring agricultural land for industrial purposes. The State government can, however, purchase non-cultivable land for industry,” he said.

Govt reluctant

Assocham's recommendations are apparently in contradiction with the stated reluctance of Ms Banerjee in acquiring land for industry. “We (State government) cannot acquire land for industry. You (industry) have to acquire it directly,” she said at her first interactive session with industry leaders after assuming office in May.

Other apex chambers such as Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and industry captains such as Mr Y.C. Deveswar of ITC Ltd have already pointed out that the intervention of the state government in land acquisition - even if in small proportions – is important for attracting large industrial investments.

Investment

Assocham is of the view that the State should attract three big-ticket investments in order to bring about a change in perception among investors. “A number of investors have adopted a ‘wait and watch' policy. The state government should send strong signals in order to attract these investors. They can do this by drawing three big ticket size investments of about Rs 10,000 crore each in sectors such as power, mining and manufacturing among others,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, faced with a dearth of land suitable for big industry, West Bengal should instead focus on a cluster approach to development, Assocham said in a study. It has proposed setting up of 17 new clusters in West Bengal, each accommodating about 1,000 units and providing direct and indirect employment to more than four-lakh people.

The estimated investment required for developing the 17 clusters would be around Rs 600 crore, according to Mr Sunil Kanoria, Chairman, Assocham, Eastern Region Development Council. The chamber has recommended the state government to constitute a statutory body as ‘Cluster Development Authority' for utilising the funds properly and to assist them in gearing up for further growth.

Published on July 29, 2011
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