Kelkar panel urges cashing in on surplus land

The Vijay Kelkar committee's recommendation to monetise surplus government land has reportedly triggered fresh thinking in key central ministries on how it can be done expeditiously.

The move has the potential to unlock huge revenue, as thousands of acres of surplus land is available with just three government entities: port trusts, the railways and public sector undertakings (PSUs), reports Business Standard.

The Kelkar panel on fiscal consolidation has stressed that over two to three years, this policy instrument could be used to raise additional resources for development. The idea was also mooted earlier, to be implemented by various ministries and departments (including the department of posts) but failed to take off.

Port trusts alone have about 50,000 acres of surplus land that can be put to commercial use and for which a comprehensive policy is on the anvil. The policy would allow the leasing of unutilised land to real estate developers.

According to a recent paper prepared by management consulting firm Deloitte, major ports in India have combined land assets of 258,000 acres at their disposal. Up to 20 per cent is not in use and could be leased out, it has pointed out, adding the world over, port land has been leveraged to optimise throughput and increase revenue.

A report by the Railways Modernisation Committee has said the organisation has 10,000 acres of surplus land in urban centres identified for commercialisation. A conservative estimate by railway ministry officials suggests the railways can generate about Rs50,000 crore from that land.