The centre is at an advanced stage of monetising “idle land assets” of key ministries and departments, including Railways, Telecommunications and Defence, and plans to use the resources generated to create infrastructure assets across the country, The Indian Express has learnt.
Sources said that after a detailed assessment of surplus land assets, various ministries are now ready to go ahead with monetisation of idle parcels for commercial development and infrastructure creation.
“The Union Budget had stressed on asset monetisation to put the available resources to better use. The Rail and Defence ministries are close to finalising monetisation of various surplus land assets. They have done their assessment and it has been discussed in detail. Among state-owned companies, BSNL is at an advanced stage to monetise (surplus assets) to aid infrastructure creation,” a senior government official said.
The Rail and Defence ministries are the biggest government land-owners in the country. According to the latest government data, the total land available with the Railways is 4.78 lakh hectares (11.80 lakh acres) of which 4.27 lakh hectares is under operational and allied usage while around 0.51 lakh hectare (1.25 lakh acres) is vacant.
The Defence Ministry, the biggest land-owner, has about 17.95 lakh acres of which around 1.6 lakh acres is within the 62 cantonments, and about 16.35 lakh acres outside their boundaries, according to data from the Directorate General, Defence Estates. The Ministry has carried out an assessment of land available for monetisation, which could be done through participation with other government entities, sources said.
The Rail Land Development Authority has started the process of commercial development and monetisation of land assets through various models, including Public Private Partnership (PPP) and joint development with state governments and public sector companies. It plans to issue tenders worth over Rs 15,000 crore in the current year for development projects, almost five times that of last year, sources said.
For state-owned BSNL and MTNL, discussions had been held earlier for monetisation of idle assets — BSNL’s plans are expected to fructify this year.
“BSNL has identified about a dozen assets, including land parcels, that can be monetised, some of which will be used to build infrastructure assets. This process is expected to start soon and may take another six months to be completed,” an official said.
For BSNL, a total of Rs 24,980 crore worth of properties were identified for monetisation for which valuation was conducted by registered valuers, as per government data presented in Parliament in March.
The government has placed emphasis on asset monetisation of ministry and departments, apart from privatisation of key state-owned entities companies, including BPCL, CONCOR, Air India and Shipping Corporation of India.
The Aviation and Roads ministries are also aggressively carrying out monetisation of assets through bidding of airports on Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis, and highways on Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) basis. The Union Budget 2020-21 had listed plans to monetise at least 12 lots of highway bundles of over 6,000 km before 2024.
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