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The Prime Minister approved relaxations in the land transfer policy of the government for government owned lands so that infrastructure projects are not held up because of procedural delays.
Early last year, a ban had been imposed on all transfer of government owned lands to any entity except in cases where land was to be transferred from one government department to another. In the meanwhile, the Department of Economic Affairs was to prepare a comprehensive land transfer policy for government owned land. In case any department had to implement a project which required alienation of land either through lease, license or rent, it had to seek specific approval of the Cabinet.
This was leading to long delays in awarding concessions for infrastructure projects, particularly PPP projects. All PPP infrastructure projects - roads, railways, ports, civil aviation and metros - have some element of land alienation as the project is often built on government owned land. The government continues to own the land which is leased or licensed out. Requiring Cabinet approval for each PPP project meant adding a few months to complete the processes for securing Cabinet approval.
The Prime Minister has now relaxed the ban for certain categories of projects by allowing land alienation for:
(i) All cases of land transfer from Ministries to statutory authorities or PSUs will be allowed, subject to the requirements of normal Government of India Rules;
(ii) All cases of land transfer on lease or rent or license to a concessionaire which have been appraised through the PPPAC route and approved by the Finance Minister or by the Ministers concerned or by the Cabinet, as the case may be, depending upon the value of the project; and
(iii) Development and use of railway land by Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) as per provisions of Railways Amendment Act, 2005 and the Rules framed thereunder and in accordance with the prevalent policies and guidelines of the Railway Ministry and the Government.
This would speed up the award of PPP projects from this month onwards significantly.