Maharashtra: NITI Aayog assures CM of ‘positive approach’ to pending land transfer issues

In a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the NITI Ayog on Tuesday promised to adopt a “positive approach” to pending land transfer issues for the metro car depot at Kanjurmarg and Dharavi redevelopment project with a view to resolving them at the earliest.

Thackeray met NITI Aayog vice-chair Rajiv Kumar, Member Ramesh Chand and CEO Amitabh Kant at the Sahyadri guest house. A statement from the CMO said that 41 issues relating to the state were discussed at the meeting.

Among these were the wrangle between the Centre and state government over the central government-owned land at Kanjurmarg metro car depot and railway land for the Dharavi redevelopment project.

“Several important issues pending with the Centre were raised by the state government. The NITI Aayog assured the CM that it will keep a positive approach in this regard and it would be sorted out soon,” said a statement from the chief minister’s secretariat.

In a presentation to the NITI Aayog, the state government stressed that constructing the Integrated Metro Car Depot at Kanjurmarg would not only result in huge savings due to land acquisition and construction cost but also help save precious forest land which would have positive environmental impact. It also reminded that in June, the CM had written to the PM urging him “to issue necessary directions to all concerned to resolve the litigation about Kanjurmarg land amicably”.

“We welcome the suggestions made by members of the NITI Aayog for development and the state will continue to coordinate with the Aayog in this regard,” the CM said, according to the statement.

The state highlighted that in spite of making full payment of Rs 800 crore to the Rail Land Development Authority in June 2019, the 45 acres of railway land has not yet been transferred to Dharavi Redevelopment Project.

The state government also raised the GST compensation issue and sought to increase the transition period to state governments beyond Financial Year 2021-22 for a further period of 3 to 5 years. During the transition period, the state is supposed to get GST compensation to protect it from loss of revenue. Not extending the period would result in an additional revenue deficit of Rs 50,000 crore, state finance ministry officials said at the meeting.

The state government, which is under financial strain due to the pandemic, requested the Centre “to devolve additional excise duty (AED) and CESS (Road and Agriculture) on Petrol and Diesel to the states for better fiscal devolution in the spirit of Cooperative Federalism”. The finance ministry said that the Centre only shares Basic Excise Duty with the state governments and other central taxes like (AED), Cess (Road and Agriculture) are not shared with state governments.

The government highlighted that it only received 1.26 per cent and 1 per cent devolution of the central taxes on diesel and petrol respectively in 2020-21 in comparison with its total contribution to the central taxes of Rs 32,432 crore and Rs 14,032 crore, respectively.

The state government further sought approval to the crop insurance scheme submitted by it to stop profiteering of insurance companies and revision in state disaster response funds and the state government’s revised norms to be considered for it.

The government sought clarity from the NITI Aayog on the Centre’s guidelines issued in October 2020 on investment from Chinese companies in the state, highlighting the two companies are awaiting approval.

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