In the view of the impending elections, the Shiv Sena has moved a notice of motion in the BMC general body demanding that the Urban Land Ceiling Act (ULCA) of 1976 be retained by the state government.
The state has already expressed it's intention to scrap the ULCA, which is one of the pre-conditions for funding under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), under which the Centre will provide assistance to major infrastructure projects.
When it was enforced, the act aimed to provide hoarding of land in the hands of a few and also provide for low-cost housing stock for the poor.
Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray had criticised the decision to scrap the ULCA on the grounds that it would hurt the interests of the sons of the soil.
The notice of motion moved by leader of the house Sunil Prabhu, which will be discussed by the BMC general body soon, says that if the ULCA is repealed, the people from the economically weaker sections will have to forget their dreams of having a house of their own in Mumbai.
The notice, which alleges that the state has done little to acquire land under the act, urges Mayor Datta Dalvi to address a representation to the state to keep the act intact.
"Though the resolution passed by the BMC general body will have no legal standing and will not be binding on the state government, it is intended to convey the feelings of the common man to the state government," Prabhu said.
BJP, Sena's coalition partner, has come out in support of the motion. Said BJP group leader in the BMC, Parag Alavani: "The state government's argument that the freeing of land for constructions due to the scrapping of the ULCA will create more housing stock for the poor and lower prices has been belied by experience. Despite the mill lands being opened up for development, there has been no fall in the property prices."
Alavani, a former civic improvement committee chairperson, however said that the ULCA had inherent contradictions. While it was meant to provide cheap housing to the poor, it also allowed officials to grant exemptions, which lead to large-scale corruption.
However, the opposition Congress-NCP is treading cautiously on the issue. Said Sameer Desai (Congress): "Repealing the act is a pre-condition for the JNNURM funds and hence, retaining it would put to risk the ongoing infrastructure projects in the city."
Added NCP Corporator Ravindra Pawar: "The decision to scrap the ULCA has been taken by the state government and hence there is no need for the BMC to interfere in it. Moreover, any such resolution passed by the BMC house will have no legal standing and hence, this move is a political stunt."