State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is at an ‘advanced stage’ to monetise surplus land assets to create infrastructure as part of the Centre’s asset monetisation programme, a senior government official has confirmed.
Also, Railways and Defence ministries are ‘close to finalising’ monetisation of surplus land.
“The Union Budget had stressed on asset monetisation to put the available resources to better use. The Rail and Defence ministries are close to finalising monetisation of various surplus land assets. They have done their assessment and it has been discussed in detail. Among state-owned companies, BSNL is at an advanced stage to monetise (surplus assets) to aid infrastructure creation,” a senior government official was quoted as saying by Indian Express.
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Earlier this year, BSNL had submitted details of four properties worth Rs 20,160 crore to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM).
“BSNL has identified about a dozen assets, including land parcels, that can be monetised, some of which will be used to build infrastructure assets. This process is expected to start soon and may take another six months to be completed,” another official said.
According to Indian Express, the Rail and Defence ministries are the biggest government land-owners in the country. The total land available with the Railways is 4.78 lakh hectares (11.80 lakh acres) of which 4.27 lakh hectares is under operational and allied usage while around 0.51 lakh hectare (1.25 lakh acres) is vacant.
The Defence Ministry, the biggest land-owner, has about 17.95 lakh acres of which around 1.6 lakh acres is within the 62 cantonments, and about 16.35 lakh acres outside their boundaries, according to data from the Directorate General, Defence Estates, the newspaper added.
Last month, Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer, Niti Aayog, said, “The government wants to be a facilitator and a catalyst, the wealth must be created by the private sector.”
“And this would require us to do several things which are both cyclical and structural… And therefore in the months to come, we will do a lot of asset monetisation and asset recycling,” he added.
According to the Centre, the objective of the asset monetisation programme is to unlock the value of investment made in public assets which have not yielded appropriate or potential returns so far.
DIPAM says, “Asset monetisation involves creation of new sources of revenue by unlocking of value of hitherto unutilised or underutilised public assets… it is recognised that public assets are a significant resource for all economies… many public sector assets are sub-optimally utilised and could be appropriately monetised to create greater financial leverage and value for the companies and of the equity that the government has invested in them. It is unclear as to how the plan would actually work. The Federal could not independently ascertain if the land would be sold or given out on lease.