Single-window clearance expected to start in April with 20 states on board

The exercise is part of India’s efforts to attract investment
The government’s proposal to launch a single-window clearance is seeing traction among foreign investors even before the scheme’s launch. At least half a dozen foreign investors are said to be in talks with the government for this mechanism.

These investors will get to identify lands or sites for setting up manufacturing units across 20 states. Government officials say the scheme will become operational from early 2021-22.

“Single-window clearance will begin from March-end or April first week next year. We have been negotiating with states on industrial manufacturing and attracting investments. So far, eight states have agreed and given their consent on land banks. Six more states will be added by November 15. We are expecting to get 20 states on board by the end of the current financial year,” said a senior government official privy to the plan. He added that enquiries have come in for land banks in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha.

The exercise is part of India’s efforts to attract investment. Central ministries, including finance and commerce, along with state governments, are working on the said mechanism. The system is to handhold foreign investors keen to invest in India. It will help obtain all the requisite regulatory and state clearances required for foreign investors to set up manufacturing units in India.

To augment this facility, the government has decided to make a repository of the county’s land bank, comprising information of all the vacant plots, heat maps (agriculture, horticulture, mineral layers), and multiple layers of connectivity, along with satellite views of the terrain.

Experts are of the opinion that the government needs to be cautious and consider the fragmented nature of lands and conflicts associated with states.

The government has been working on a single-window approval for land banks with regard to sectors with heavy infrastructure requirements (automobile, steel, aluminium, and other industrial manufacturing sectors), given that the same has been repeatedly highlighted by sovereign funds and other investors as an important factor in the ease of doing business in India.

“Considering the fragmented nature of land banks across states, and the red tape faced by investors in land acquisition in India, the central government will have to take care of the concerns of the state government in so far as incentives granted to investors are concerned,” said Atul Pandey, partner, Khaitan & Co.

In addition, the government should also market it well by issuing title certificates of each land to give a clearer picture to the potential investor. “Any prospective investor who wishes to purchase land to set up shop has to go through due diligence. It goes without saying that the investor would do a title search of the land, assess and analyse it, and then arrive at a purchase price. It is a good initiative to procure digital data of land. At the same time, the government needs to also market it well by issuing title certificates of each land to avoid any conflict associated with the land,” said Pankaj Kapoor, founder and managing director, ýLiases Foras — a real estate rating and research firm.

Besides, the government must also facilitate single-window clearances for other licences and registrations to increase the industrial manufacturing base in India, added Pandey.

The portal will also have information of high-priority sectors under Make In India, such as state- and district-wise net industrial land available, relevant contact details, land available for investment, current external infrastructure geotagged, such as road, rail, airport, and dry port connectivity to all industrial hotspots.

The boost to Make In India has come with Apple starting manufacturing of one of its flagship devices, the iPhone 11, at Chennai’s Foxconn plant in July, This was the first time Apple manufactured a top-of-the-line model in India.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry in August had e-launched the national geographic information system (GIS)-enabled land bank system. The ministry stated it would help investors get real-time information about the availability of industrial land and resources. The system has been developed by the Integration of Industrial Information System with state GIS.

More than 3,300 industrial parks across 31 states and Union Territories, covering 475,000 hectares of land, have been mapped on the system. The government has so far identified 12 industrial sectors to focus upon, and the same has been expanded to 20. This would help in scaling up investment, and leveraging the competitive edge of the country.

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