Real estate prices have risen exponentially in the last decade, but the state government has inexplicably extended its largesse to those occupying prime plots of land in the island city where 40% of government leases have expired, some as far back as the 1950s. Of the 1,282 plots leased, the lease of 532 plots has expired and the government has not bothered to renew it.
Located in south Mumbai, the real estate is fetching the government a paltry Rs48.82 crore annually from the 51.66 lakh sq mt of leased land. The data was provided after former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi filed an RTI query with the city collector.
Apart from the 40% of leases that have expired, there are 48 plots where there is neither a mention of when the lease deed was signed nor the number of years for which it was leased out. In the case of 55 plots, the lease period is not mentioned while three plots do not mention the date of signing the deed.
The Mumbai Port Trust is among the lessees whose lease period is not mentioned for the 76,101 sq mt of land given in 1935. Adarsh Co-Operative Housing Society is among those whose deed mentions neither the date of signing nor the period of lease. However, the plot accounts for the largest lease rent the state earns — Rs18.5 crore annually for about 9,000 sq mt of land. This is the only figure somewhere close to the market value of the land.
Mulaji Haridas, who holds 404.68 sq mt of land in Colaba, continues to pay Rs0.06 per year. Its lease expired in 1954.
“There is a major problem with the government’s approach. It is either arbitrariness, carelessness or corruption on the part of government and in either case it is bad for people. The state is losing out on revenue that could be used for good purposes, especially for welfare projects,” said Shailesh Gandhi.
Pankaj Kapoor, MD of property consultancy Liases Foras, told DNA the equivalent for outright purchase price in the island city, at a conservative average estimate, would be Rs1,50,000 per square metre. By that calculation, the government can extract Rs77,000 crore through long leases.
Collector Chadrashekhar Oak said a new land lease policy has been notified. The new policy, announced in October 2012, ruffled a lot of feathers by announcing a first-ever rejection of the centuries-old, British-era lease rents. “In 1999, there was a policy for renewing them. Some people challenged that in the high court. The case was withdrawn in 2006. Now the government has come out with a new policy and a GR for the same has been issued in December 2012. As per this, first we will look to renew the leases as per Ready Reckoner rates,” Oak said. Those unwilling to pay market rates will have to surrender land, the implementation of which will start between March and May 31, he added.