Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is wooing investors by offering 90,000 acres of land from the state’s land bank, but government documents show that the bank does not include a single large tract of land. This has given rise to doubts whether the land will attract investors.
According to records collected from various districts and state government departments, the land and land reforms department itself has 59,000 acres in its possession. The quantity of land available with 41 departments stands at 31,000 acres.
“There are 13 more departments that are yet to file their reports. Even last month we sent them stern reminders. Our target was December 31 but we believe we will have to wait another month,” a senior official of the land and land reforms department told The Indian Express.
However, the official said that a single large tract of land — such as the one acquired in Singur by the Left Front government — is not available. “Land in West Bengal is very fertile and — except for some districts like Purulia, Bankura and West Midnapore — even a 100-acre tract cannot be found lying unused. That is a major problem. We should look at clusters of small industries,” the official added.
Before coming to power, the Trinamool Congress made it clear in its manifesto that it would play no role in arranging for land for industrialists. It had said it would prepare a land bank from which investors could avail themselves of land.
Accordingly, after assuming power, the land and land reforms department embarked on the job led by land and land reforms commissioner R D Meena, who kept on writing to district magistrates and departmental secretaries to furnish records of land available with them.
The Indian Express stumbled upon another report which said that while the Trinamool government did not acquire any land for private purposes, it has so far acquired 6,400 acres of land for public purposes like building embankments in South 24 Parganas which was affected by Cyclone Aila, building of railway lines, roads, defence establishment, etc.
Industrialists in Kolkata said the government should come clear on all the land it can offer. “The government should list the land available with it, their location, approach roads, etc. All this information should be available on the government website,’’ said Ashok Aikat, president, Bharat Chamber of Commerce.
CII, another business body, also welcomed the initiative. “The state government has been claiming it has a land bank. We will be happy if it is ready,” said Saugata Mukherjee, regional director of CII.