Misuse of Public Land under Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board

KIADB acquired 37,100 acres of land valued ₹9,000 crore for developing industrial areas without techno-feasibility studies of land.

Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) is a statutory body established under Section 5 of the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Act in 1966. The main functions of KIADB are to provide contemporary infrastructural facilities and services to the entrepreneurs and allot land for industrial purposes in order to increase the economic development of Karnataka.

According to a 2017 Comptroller Auditor General on Economic Sector of Government of Karnataka Report, the industry body has failed to meet its intended objectives. During the year 2011-17, KIADB acquired 37,100 acres of land for developing industrial areas without techno-feasibility studies. As a result, 37,100 acres (equal to approx.28,000 football fields) of land valued at 9,000 crore was kept unused.

This is not the only incident, the KIADB consistently fails to meet its targets. During the years 2009-2014, it made a target of allotting 12,500 acres of land for industrial activities but only 6,212 acres of land was allotted.

But why KIADB was not able to achieve its targets?

One of the main functions of KIADB is to provide a business-friendly atmosphere to entrepreneurs to promote industrial activities. The CAG report shows that inefficiencies of bureaucrats in KIADB discouraged the entry of entrepreneurs which resulted in large-chunk of land lying idle in industrial areas. As of March 2017, 281 applications for allotment of industrial land were pending for more than 6 years in Dharwad district. 452 applications were pending for more than 5 years. 61 applications for more than 4 years.

In Gamnagatti industrial area, located in Dharwad district, 269 applications were pending for more than six years, despite the availability of 48 acres of land. The reason for the delay in allotment of plots is nothing but the negligence of officials. About 278 pending applications in Gamnagatti industrial area pertained to Gadag-Nasarpur industrial area, where no land is available for allocation. Around 38 industrial areas across the state did not have basic infrastructure facilities such as street-lights, power sub-station, water supply, and common sewage treatment plant etc.

According to the conditions of allotment of land by KIADB, an applicant must carry out production within four years of time, otherwise, KIADB can take away the land. Around 1,113 acres of land allotted to 467 industrial units remained unutilized for more than 4 years and no action was taken by KIADB. Reportedly, 9 units occupying 11 acres of land did not undertake any production even after 30 years of allotment.

KIADB also provided the undue financial benefit of 91 crore to 76 allottees by reducing the tentative allotment rates by not including water supply and electricity charges. The CAG also observed that around 209 acres of land under litigation were allotted to entrepreneurs by KIADB. This made difficult for the entrepreneurs to carry out their business.

It is such a shame that our politicians acquire large-chunk of land in the name of industrial development and end-up misusing it. Do we even need an Industrial Development Authorities which discourages entrepreneurs through opaque bureaucracies and mismanages the public land at the expense of our development?