The state government has amended the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code 1966 several times since 1994 to drastically simplify the conversion process. The amendments allowed bona fide industries to come up on agricultural land and also on land within the industrial zone of a development plan without seeking prior clearances for zone conversion. The district collector merely had to be informed about the change of land use within 30 days.
However, the developer had to provide a “self-assessment” that the land was free of encumbrances.
This includes certifying that the land would not come under acquisition, road and irrigation projects or even face obstructions from high tension wires of power projects. Based on the self-assessment submitted to the state, he would get a “sanad” or certification from the government, a document which eased the process of raising finances for the project.
“It is very difficult for any developer to have knowledge of such government-related encumbrances on land. So very few took a advantage of the changed rules,” said a senior revenue department official.
The Industrial Non-agricultural Use Facilitation committee is expected to meet twice a month to certify that the land faces no encumbrances. It is headed by the additional collector and has members from the departments including urban development, environment, public works and irrigation.
Once the committee clears the certification, the project has to be given a “sanad” or official document stating it is free of encumbrances, within 60 days.
“Banks don’t tend to clear loans without this document. Prior to this amendment, it would take a long time for the government to grant this crucial clearance,” said a senior revenue department official.