More than Rs 400 crore that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has paid to the state government is stuck in the complicated process of land acquisition. The civic body had made the payments to acquire plots reserved in its development plan (DP) for open spaces, roads, fire stations or schools, show data provided by the collector's office.
As per the data, the BMC is yet to acquire more than 172 plots – 135 from suburbs and 37 from the city – even though the acquisition process started years ago. The data, which exclude H-West and H-East wards, show that BMC had approached the state for some plots more than five years ago.
If the BMC wants to acquire a plot, it cannot directly approach the owner. It first approaches the collector, who then issues a notification in the paper. The land is measured and its value is decided based on the ready-reckoner rate. If the owner agrees to the compensation, they go ahead with the acquisition process. The BMC has to submit at least two-thirds of the amount to the collector for the acquisition. The over Rs400 crore being talked about is the sum total of such payments that BMC has made to the collector.
"Acquiring plots under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 was quite a lengthy process, but the new act has made it almost impossible now," said a civic official. He added that under the new Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR), which came into effect on January 1 this year, if the BMC wanted to acquire land, it has to rehabilitate the land's occupants. "We will not only have to relocate them, but also their businesses. Moreover, the place where they will have to be relocated has to be within a certain distance from where they were staying," the official explained.
However, suburban collector Shekhar Channe said, "The new Act was formulated considering the injustice meted out to previous landowners. Acquisition of all BMC plots is in process. If some of them are pending, acquisition of many more plots has been completed too."
"Under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, we had to relocate just one family residing in a particular place. But, under the new law, if there are three separate families in a joint family, we will have to ensure the rehabilitation of all three families and provide each of them 500 sqft, which was earlier 269 sqft," the official said, adding that the new Act was also slum-friendly.