As protests over the Punjab government’s decision to develop an industrial estate over 1,320 acres of land of the Bathinda thermal plant continues, questions have been raised by its employees over the ‘land pooling policy’, which has been applied in this case.
This policy was framed in 2013 by the state housing and urban development department, under which 80 per cent of the share of land sale will go to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), and the remaining 20 per cent to the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA). Employees have asked why such a policy was needed and why should PUDA be given 20 per cent share.
Sources said PUDA will be taking a Rs 100 crore loan against this land to develop the area. This was said by Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal as well on Tuesday in Chandigarh. However, at the same time, he had stated that it will be developed as an industrial estate.
Power engineers have asked why a housing development authority is involved in developing an industrial estate. Moreover, the agenda regarding optimum utilisation of the thermal plant land was passed by PSPCL’s board of directors on February 13, but the decision was formally announced on June 22. PSPCL’s February 13 letter also states that the 2013 notification of the urban housing development department will be followed and profits of sale of land will be shared in the ratio of 80:20 by PSPCL and PUDA.
“The 2013 land pooling policy says that charges of CLU, external development charges, interest on loan etc. need to be paid by the land owner. Hence, we need to know what is going to happen in the present case. Interests of PSPCL should be taken care of as first priority,” said Ajaypal Singh Atwal, general secretary of PSEB Power Engineers Association.
After developing the area, when sale of land will happen, sale proceedings will go to PUDA and after sale of land, 80 per cent share will be passed on to PSPCL, said sources. “This sounds so strange, why can’t PSPCL sell this land on its own,” asked an officer on condition of anonymity.
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