Article 39(b) of the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Indian Constitution enforces an obligation to the government that they should follow the principles which best subserve the common good. The state has been obligated to manage the resources of the country in such a manner that they can be utilised in the best possible manner to enhance the wealth of the nation. This can only be possible when the government works for overall economic progress of the country and judiciously utilizes its every resource.
Utilization of Land Resources of Railways
Working according to the constitutional obligation, the government has been constantly coming up with innovative instruments to realise the full potential of the Indian economy. Progressing with the intended goal to develop a parallel economy along the Railway lines in India, the government has come up with a very lucrative railways’ land leasing policy.
In the latest release of notification regarding the liberalisation of land leasing policy along the railways’ lines, the government has announced to reduce the railways Land Licence Fee (LLF) from 6% to 1.5%. Further, it has also announced to increase the lease period from 5 years to 35 years.
The government’s newly released land leasing policy also announced that: –
- For Optical Fiber Cables (OFC) and other smaller diameter underground utilities, a one-time fee of Rs. 1000/- will be charged for crossing railway track.
- use of railway land at a nominal cost for setting up of solar plants on railway land.
- The policy also simplifies Railways’ land use and Right of Way (ROW) for integrated development of public service utilities like electricity, gas, water supply, sewage disposal, urban transport, etc. by providing railway land at 1.5% of the market value of land per annum.
- The policy also encourages development of social infrastructure (such as hospitals through PPP and schools through Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangthan) on railway land at a nominal annual fee of Rupee 1 per sqm. per annum.
- The existing entities using railway land for cargo terminals will have the option to switch to the new policy regime after a transparent and competitive bidding process.
- 300 PM Gati Shakti Cargo Terminals would be developed over next five years and about 1.2 lakh employment would be generated.
The benefit of the liberalisation
The government hopes that the new railways’ land policy would enable the integrated development of infrastructure and more cargo terminals. Other than bringing more revenue to railways, this will help in development of public utilities like electricity, gas, water supply, telecom cable, sewage disposal, drains, optical fiber cables, pipelines, roads, flyovers, bus terminals, regional rail transport and urban transportation an integrated manner.
The government hopes that “Liberalizing the land leasing policy would open avenues for all stakeholders / service providers / operators to establish more cargo related facilities and render their participation assisting in generation of additional cargo traffic and freight revenues to Railways”.
A Part of the PM Gati Shakti Framework
The railways’ Land Liberalisation Policy is a part of PM Gati Shakti – National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity. As infrastructure is the cornerstone of India’s economic development, PM Modi wishes to build it through the PM Gati Shakti Framework.
Under the framework, a digital platform has been envisaged under which 16 ministries are being brought together for integrated planning, coordination, and implementation of all the infrastructure projects. The plan is to synchronise every mode of connectivity which allows the faster movement of goods, services and people. An increase in efficiency and a decrease in cost of logistics would reduce the overall input cost of any service subsequently leading to the enhancement of economic businesses.
Every infrastructure project like Sagarmala, Bharatmala, ports, UDAN, and waterways would be integrated with economic zones like textile, pharmaceutical, fishing clusters, defence and industrial corridors, Agri-zones, and exclusive economic zones. The multimodal economic connectivity will increase competitiveness in the economy and will enhance asset creation.
The liberalisation of railways’ land leasing policy is a part of the National Master Plan for Multi-modal Connectivity. It will develop a parallel economy along the Railway lines in India. As most of the villages and small towns are well connected with the railways, it helps in developing the backward area of the country. True to the Directive Principles of State Policy, it has the capacity to bring prosperity to the most backward regions of the nation. Ensuring the common good, this policy change will help in bringing economic justice to India.
Read More: Understanding the Gati Shakti master plan that PM Modi announced for boosting infrastructure development
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