A NUMBER of PSUs in South India have expressed their keenness to lease out the land. This follows the Central Government’s willingness to leverage the land bank in the possession of many ailing PSUs, reports a daily.
“It is evident from the case of FACT that the Central Government is readying itself to sell/lease the land of PSU companies which are making losses. Earlier, when...a company is in bad shape it is referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction. Now the ministries concerned are entrusted with taking a call on the land holding of these companies,” Save HOCL joint action council convener K S Prakashan was quoted a s saying in .
The Cochin Port Trust, the largest holder in Kochi among the five PSUs, has already placed an advertisement on the website, making no secret of its intention to lease out 192 acres of land. “The present policy of the Central Government is to advise PSUs to raise its own
operational funds. All they have is land and, therefore, the solution is evident. Sooner or later the land under the custody of these company will either be sold or leased out. Their explanation is that if this does not materialise the government will be forced to hike tax rates,” said M P Sukumaran Nair, director, Centre for Green Technology and Management and a PSU expert.
The move by PSUs assumes significance in the wake of Tamil Nadu government’s bid to take over HMT. In its judgment on December 3, 2014, the High Court ordered that the Government could initiate action in accordance with the Rules for the Assignment of Government Lands and statutory powers against the company as the land was government land. HMT Kalamassery unit was started in 1964, in 1,000 acres of land allotted by the state government. Since then, the company has given land to Toshiba Anand, Naval Armament Depot and for setting up HMT Industrial Estate. In 2000, 400 acres of land was given away for setting up Medical College and KINFRA Park. Out of this 400 acres, HMT was given 100 acres to be sold. In 2007, HMT had sold 70 acres to Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL) for Rs 90 crore. As result, the land bank of the company has shrunk to 374 acres in 49 years. “The value of the land comes to around Rs 1,500 crore if we take a conventional estimate. The government may give this land to private companies in future. In 2002, HMT land was allotted to KINFRA for the industrial development of the state. Though some projects have come up, a large area remains unused even after more 12 years of allotment. Considering history, we will oppose the state government’s move to take over the land,” said a CITU leader at HMT, Krishnadas.