Title deeds for over 34,000 acres of land with the country’s major ports, or nearly 45% of their total “land holding”, are missing, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), putting a serious question mark on plans to expand port operations and monetise surplus lands with the ports.
According to the CAG audit report tabled in Parliament, the policy guidelines governing the use of port land suffered from the lack of clarity, which led to major ports treating similar issues differently. The auditor recommended that these guidelines be reviewed and reformulated to bring clarity. According to CAG, six major ports (of the 13) didn’t have title deeds for their entire land holding amounting to nearly 29,000 acres. For instance, failure of Paradip Port Trust to complete mutation process for title deeds meant that around 186 acres of land stood recorded in favour of old tenants. The report cited discrepancies in the land holding records maintained at port and state revenue authorities. Similar discrepancies were noticed in records maintained by different departments of the ports, it said. There was a delay of up to 31 years for renewing leases in land allotment cases.