Direct land purchase for industry won’t work: Stiglitz

Kolkata, Jan 11 (IANS) Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz Wednesday said the West Bengal government’s model of direct purchase of land from land owners to set up big plants over large pieces of land will not work.

‘From the general economic point of view, the approach (of the West Bengal government) will not work probably,’ Stiglitz said at a seminar organised by the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) here.

He said such models found hurdles even in developed countries like the US where a limited number of land owners had agreed to sell their land for much higher rates.

While leading chambers of commerce and industrialists have repeatedly expressed resentment over the Mamata Banerjee government’s land policy which decrees that the state has no role to play in land acquisition for industrial projects, and that businessmen need to buy it outright from land owners, the government has remained firm on its stand.

‘They (industry) will want to assemble large pieces of land while there are fragmented ownerships. In case of multiple owners one person can hold on to a piece of land and ask for a lot more for that piece. That will make purchase difficult,’ Stiglitz said.

Referring to the government’s role in acquiring land, the professor at the Columbia University said the government had to be involved in promoting development.

He said the land to be acquired for setting up plants should be less fertile and adequate compensation has to be provided to the land losers.

‘You have to remember that land is more than what it seems. It provides the owners with security and you have to be sensitive towards that,’ he added.