The new land allotment policy prescribes various guidelines, including the extent of land for a particular project in case of allotment by the government or its agencies, and also puts similar limitations on private land acquisitions, though indirectly.
A company now might not be able to acquire the extent of land it wishes to for a particular project, even through direct purchase from land owners in Andhra Pradesh, as the state government’s new policy prescribes land requirement depending on the size and nature of a project.
The new land allotment policy, issued in September, prescribes various guidelines, including the extent of land (principle of judicious allotment) for a particular project in case of allotment by the government or its agencies.
However, the state’s effort to standardise the extent of land required for each kind of project, say a power project of a particular size, also puts similar limitations on private land acquisitions, though indirectly.
“Even if someone would want to directly buy the land from farmers, he cannot acquire as much as he wants in the name of a particular project because land use conversion is a matter that has to be decided by the government under the existing laws,” a senior government official told Business Standard.
When it comes to how much extent is to be allowed for land use conversion for a particular project, the authorities concerned will now have to take the indicative requirement suggested by the new policy as a benchmark.
For instance, the policy states that a 4,000-Mw thermal power project requires about 2,440 acres if it is a pit head or a load centre station using indigenous coal and 925-1,220 acres if it’s a coastal power station based on imported coal. This puts a question mark on the rationale of many previous land allotments made in Andhra.
Even imported-coal based coastal power projects such as the Krishnapatnam ultra mega power project was given over 2,500 acres of land.
“The governments had earlier given land in different sizes to projects of same capacity and nature in a completely arbitrary manner. This had given rise to a kind of land loot and subsequent scandals. The new policy is intended to check such arbitrary land allotments in the future," said the official.
Most of the government land had already been lost to private interests in this way as the new policy came a bit too late, the official said. If there is a political will in the government, the authorities could take back at least 200,000-300,000 acres on the basis of land not being utilised for the intended purpose, he said.
The revenue department, which deals with land issues, has already given out instructions to the district administration to reexamine all the land allotment proposals in the light of the new policy.