MUMBAI: Taking a leaf out of the Chinese development model, the Fadnavis government has drafted an ambitious but controversial plan to monetise government land for bankrolling work on ongoing irrigation and infrastructure projects.
The state hopes to mobilise up to Rs 2 lakh crore to meet expenditure on widening the Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, building dams for irrigation, strengthening state highways and reducing power transmission losses from 14% to 8%.
A senior bureaucrat told TOI that a committee headed by additional chief secretary (finance) D K Jain has been set up to draft an action plan. There are about 376 irrigation projects in the state on which work is currently underway, including 67 in drought-prone areas and 132 in districts where crop failures and indebtedness have led to a spate of suicides.
The state’s debt burden has crossed Rs 3.79 lakh crore, the bulk of its budget goes towards salaries, pensions and interest. “Under such circumstances, it is not possible to provide funds from the budgetary outlay for infrastructure projects. We have studied the China model on land monetisation to garner funds for completion of key projects in a time-bound period,” said the official.
Elaborating on the proposal, the bureaucrat said the Jain committee is expected to take stock of the total land holdings of the state government and examine how it can be used for mobilising funds. “First, we’ll secure information on lands which are not required by the government at all and whether these lands can be auctioned to generate funds or whether the government can mortgage them. We expect that the committee will complete at least the basic exercise on vacant land data in two to three months and then work out either an auction or a mortgage plan,” he said.
The bureaucrat pointed out that there was no option but to examine alternate options to mobilise resources, since Maharashtra cannot levy any more taxes. “We have absolutely no scope to levy fresh charges on people or the industrial sector. We had been examining several options, but it was felt that land monetisation will fetch maximum funds,” he said.
Besides Jain, secretaries of the departments of revenue, urban development, public works, forest and energy will be members of the committee.
On the requirement of funds, the bureaucrat said the state government will require a minimum of Rs 80,000 crore for completing of ongoing irrigation projects, Rs 40,000 crore for Mumbai-Nagpur expressway, Rs 40,000 crore for strengthening state highways and Rs 30,000 crore for improving power transmission system to reduce transmission losses from 14% to 8%.
Credits ET Realty