Thursday, May 23, 2013

CAG finds Gujarat's public land policy poor, suggests immediate reforms

Kapil Dave, TNN Apr 4, 2013, 03.56AM IST

GANDHINAGAR: Gujarat government has come in for major criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India over serious lapses in its management of public land. In its report tabled in the assembly on Tuesday, the CAG suggested immediate law and policy corrections to prevent a loss of hundreds of crores to the public exchequer every year and rooting out large-scale corruption.

In its major audit observations in a few select cases, the CAG pointed that due to illegal practices of revenue department officials, the government has lost more than Rs 747 crore in just one year.

Lack of uniformity and transparency in allotment
The CAG report clearly says that its scrutiny of land allotment records during 2006-11 revealed that no orders or instructions were issued by the revenue department for determining qualifications of allottees or for inviting applications. Instead, allotments were considered in respect of only those who applied.
"The prices were fixed by various committees; the norms prescribed for fixing the price of land were found to be unrealistic in some cases. It was also observed that these norms were not adhered to in some cases. Thus, there was no uniformity in fixing prices of lands alienated," the report says.
Inadequate maintenance of records
The prime audit agency in the country held the revenue department responsible for not having consolidated data of alienated and un-alienated land, status of the alienation proposals received from collectors besides approved, rejected and pending cases.
During a test check of records in the offices of revenue officials in 2011-12, the CAG found under-assessment of tax and other irregularities worth Rs 183.40 crore in just 136 cases. It pointed out that actual receipts from 2007-08 to 2010-11 showed an increasing trend while it declined in 2011-12 by 17.42% over the previous year.
Short recovery of occupancy price
The CAG report has pointed towards undervaluation of government land due to incorrect computation of market value of land and non-recovery of additional market value for allotment of grazing land that resulted in short recovery of occupancy price of Rs 36.49 crore in 29 cases.
The report says Larsen & Toubro Limited was allotted government land for the manufacture of super critical steam generators and a forging shop for the nuclear power plant. The price of the land was fixed by DLVC instead of SLVC rates, which resulted in revenue losses of Rs 128.71 crore. It also says that allotment of land at concessional prices to two ineligible trusts resulted in undue benefits to them and subsequent short recovery of occupancy price by Rs 25.05 crore.
The CAG report points, "The delay in regularization of encroached government land coupled with levy of ad-hoc penalty at lesser rates in the case of Essar Steel Company Ltd. resulted in short recovery of Rs 238.50 crore."
"Government land was not utilized for the purpose it was allotted for, and conditions of allotment were breached in five cases. The departmental officials either failed to detect the cases or did not take corrective actions to vacate the land," the report says.

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