Even as the city faces a land crunch, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has been going slow on taking back its plots leased to private and government parties for several years despite expiry of agreements, it has come to light.
In a reply to queries raised by Samajwadi Party corporator from Kurla, Ashraf Azmi, the corporation has informed that there are 226 such plots, lease periods for which have expired. The BMC has leased a total of 4,176 plots. Of these, 20 plots are such agreements of which have expired range between 25 years to 48 years.
The BMC has cited reasons of absence of policies towards renewing lease agreements for several plots that are being used for various purposes like commercial, residential and recreational activities.
"On one hand, the BMC plans to turn the city into a business hub for which it will require land. On the other hand, it is not showing interest taking back its own plots. This is a case of darkness under lantern," Azmi reacted.
"Officials keep citing reasons like absence of policy to renew the agreements or take back land. But tell me, if it was my property, would I have kept quite citing lack of policies," Azmi alleged.
The corporator said the civic body should first identify plots owned by it and see if they are encroached. "Then it should figure out what are the legal options available to reclaim them. If need be, pursue the state government to pass an ordinance in this regard," Azmi suggested.
Despite repeated attempts, civic chief Sitaram Kunte could not be reached for his version. An official from estate department, wishing anonymity, said, "We can not go after acquiring land in every case. For instance, there are 17 plots which were leased for police colony. In such a case, the BMC will most probably look to renew the lease agreement than take back the land. Efforts are being made at all levels including state government to resolve the issue. Also, according to our report, since these properties are still with the lessee, technically they are not encroached upon," the official said.