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Land parcels given to Railways’ for commercial sites still undeveloped: Parl Panel

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (PTI) The Public Accounts Committee of Lok Sabha in its report has found that the Railway Land Development Authority (RLDA) failed in its objective to develop railway land sites for commercial use due to various reasons.

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In the report, presented to the Lok Sabha, the Committee said that it reviewed 17 sites out of 49 entrusted to RLDA by the Indian Railways in 2007 and noted that none of them were developed till 2017.

It added that out of 49 sites, only 40 were commercially viable.

The Committee, chaired by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, selected the subject “Development of Railway Land for Commercial use by Rail Land Development Authority” which was based on the Comptroller of Auditor General’s (CAG) report laid in the Lok Sabha on July 20, 2018.

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According to the report, Indian Railway has 43,000 hectares of vacant land out of which it entrusted 49 sites to RLDA from 2007 to 2017 for commercial development to generate revenue.

“The Committee observed that Audit reviewed the development of 17 sites, which were entrusted to RLDA in 2007 when it was constituted and found that none of these sites had been developed,” the report said.

“Audit findings revealed that there were delays in the engagement of consultants, in the submission of reports by the consultants, taking permission from state governments for change of land use plan, deficiencies in entrustment of land to RLDA by the concerned Zonal Railways by providing encumbered land, identifying wrong site or sites with incomplete papers etc which resulted in non-development of these sites of 166.996 acres,” it said.

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The Committee also found that since being set up, while RLDA incurred expenditure of Rs 102.29 cr towards the establishment, consultancy charges, advertisement etc. from 2006-07 to 2016-17, it only earned Rs 67.97 cr from the development of Multi-Functional Complexes (MFCs) at railway stations, which was not part of the earnings from commercial development of entrusted lands.

The Committee in its report said that on perusal of the status of development of these 17 sites, it noted that only three sites were handed over for development, seven sites were de-entrusted and handing over of the remaining seven sites was delayed due to various reasons such as the matter being pending in Courts, valuation being done by consultants, termination of LOA (Letter of Administration) etc.

“The Committee while noting that the Railway Board has since issued instructions to all General Managers to ensure title of the railway land parcel in Railways’ name and encumbrances/encroachment free land before entrustment to RLDA, recommend to be apprised of the reason for de-entrustment seven sites and the status of handing over of the remaining seven sites to the RLDA,” the report said.

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“The Committee also desires to be apprised of the status of the 40 sites that were found to be commercially viable as on 31 March, 2017,” it added.

The Committee also noted in the report various other inaction on the part of RLDA such as delay in the appointment of consultants to ascertain the financial valuation of land and to identify the potential use of land to provide maximum revenue and non-preparation of development plan.

It also stated that since the railway land was being demarcated in revenue records as a 'Public and Semi Public Zone', the same was required to be converted to a 'Commercial Zone' by obtaining permission from the concerned State Government through the Change of Land Use (CLU) which the RLDA didn’t do.

“...the Committee opine that since land is a state subject under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India the development of the surplus railway land in States/ UTs should be in conformity with their master plan and, therefore, the RLDA may pursue with the other states accordingly or explore the option of revenue sharing with them to help speed up projects,” the report said. PTI JP NB NB

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