The Maharashtra government has decided to repeal the controversial Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act 1976 much before the earlier stipulated December 2007 deadline.
While the last leg of surplus land acquisition and possession is on in full swing, senior government officials said, adding that if all goes as planned the Act should be repealed in the coming Assembly session in December this year.
Urban Development Principal Secretary Ramanand Tiwari has confirmed that the government was now seriously thinking of repealing the ULCRA by January 2007.
"We can't afford to wait till the end of next year. There are projects worth Rs 12,000 crore which have been submitted before the Centre under the JNURM which are stuck because the ULCRA hasn't yet been repealed."
Tiwari admitted that there was a lot of pressure on the government and the Prime Minister's recent request to repeal the Act has added momentum to the decision.
"Both the Houses need to pass the resolution and then there should be no problem. Land acquisition is going on in full swing."
The ULC department of the state government has created a record of sorts by bringing more than 40 hectares of land under its possession in the month of September alone.
Not only is the department under pressure to rush the process of acquisition and possession of surplus land but it also has to meet the High Court deadline of January 15, 2007, by which 1010 acres of surplus land under the ULCRA needs to be acquired.
"We have to bring another 400 hectares of land under the government's possession before January 15, 2007. In September, we have managed to take the maximum amount of land in possession and will continue doing so for the next few months," said SR Jhondale, Additional Collector, Urban Land Ceiling (ULC) Department.
In the last one year, since the state government has been toying with the idea of scrapping the ULCRA, around 1500 acres of land have been acquired.
Figures provided by the ULC department show that out of the 1256 hectares of land that was declared as surplus in Mumbai, around 740 hectares have been exempted by different state governments under the pretext of providing low cost housing schemes.
Of the remaining 516 hectares, only 106 hectares have been taken under possession by the state. The remaining 412 hectares, which are in question now, have already been acquired but are yet to be given possession notices by the government.