The Bharatiya Janata Party-led Rajasthan government threw another surprise after it managed to pass the Special Investment Region Bill, 2016, in the Assembly amid strong protests from its own legislators and the Congress.
The Bill will allow the state government to set up integrated industrial townships in the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), which runs 150 km on either sides of the 1,500-km dedicated freight corridor.
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The state government is initially planning to set up townships in two nodes identified in Khushkhera-Bhiwadi-Neemrana and Jodhpur- Pali-Marwar regions of Rajasthan. But its Bill has already run into rough weather.
Sachin Pilot, Rajasthan's Congress chief, called it an anti-farmer Bill. His party had staged a walkout when the Bill was being passed in the Assembly on Monday.
"The Bill has draconian clauses and moreover it will not pass court scrutiny as no state Bill can override any central law (Land Acquisition Act, 2013)," he said.
According to the state Bill, the state government "may, by notification in the Official Gazette, declare any area of land, including an industrial area, to be a special investment region."
The Bill entails the state will set up a board and a regional development authority having 15 members, including the minister in-charge of the DMIC project in the state, and parliamentarians and legislators representing the areas included in the special investment region. These areas will only be governed and developed by the regional development authority.
Maneesh Chauhan, Commissioner, Rajasthan DMIC, clarified that the Bill was required to provide a legal framework and power to the regional development authority. "The authority will acquire the land according to the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. It is similar to the Jaipur Development Authority, which acquires land for residential purpose, and the Rajasthan State Industrial Development and Investment Corporation, which acquires land for industry," Chauhan said. "Those who don't wish to give up their land will be given the option to develop it according to the master plan of the special investment region," Chauhan said.
The state government has identified 165 km for the Khushkhera-Bhiwadi-Neemrana node. The state government will develop a nucleus of 14 km and the first phase of development is expected to be over by 2021, followed by the second phase in 2031 and the third in 2041.
Officials in Delhi said setting up of the regional development authority was necessary to speed up the DMIC project, which passes through Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
"We force the state governments to set up regional development authorities so that the DMIC along with the state government can launch a special purpose vehicle for the development of a particular area," said an official on condition of anonymity.
"Some states already have legislation that allow them to set up regional development authorities, while others like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat have brought in amendments," the official added.
Around 40 per cent of the freight corridor passes through 22 districts of Rajasthan, which was the last state to set up a board and regional development authority. The state, however, has surprised everyone after Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje introduced a series of industrial and labour reforms in the last two years.