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HindustanTimes Sun,31 Aug 2014

State turning blind eye to land-lease violations: CAG

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 03, 2013
First Published: 01:12 IST(3/8/2013) | Last Updated: 01:13 IST(3/8/2013)

The government, state agencies and the civic body have been violating norms and turning a blind-eye to irregularities in  land lease agreements, thereby causing huge losses to the state exchequer, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said in its report on Friday.

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The CAG, which tabled its audit report for 2013 in the state legislature, indicted the state, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority, Maha-rashtra Housing and Region Development Authority (Mh-ada) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for causing huge losses to the state exchequer by either not renewing land leases, or by regularising lease transfers over several decades.

It asked the state to form a clear policy on lease matters and streamline the procedure for maintaining data on arrears of land revenue. It also wants the government to stop levying a provisional rate/premium on land and instead arrive at final rate (which will be more than existing levy) to recover revenue arrears.

In the report, the CAG mentioned several prominent commercial establishments, institutes headed by politicians, celebrities, housing societies, industries and textile mills that have violated lease norms, but said the government and civic bodies turned a blind eye to them.

CAG noted that some lessees, such as the Royal Western India Turf Club Ltd (RWITCL), made huge financial gains by using the leased plot for commercial purposes.

The report pointed out that the state does not have a uniform policy for allotment of land on lease. Respective district collectors and other agencies adopt different procedures for allotment.

“No decisive action had been taken. In some cases even the eligibility conditions for granting lease had not been observed. Some lease deeds were not even executed and registered,” said the CAG.

The auditor blamed the financial loss on lack of coordination between government departments and local bodies. It has asked the state to make the process of leasing government land transparent, by making public names of leased lands and displaying on site the details of lease to ensure illegal transfer of land.


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