No change in plots given out on old lease | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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No change in plots given out on old lease

The new open spaces policy has made a bid to win back the lost open spaces of the city, but a fine reading reveals that the civic body has chosen to go soft on plots that have either been given to institutions on old leases or where leases have expired. This could mean that some of the city’s rightful open spaces could be lost forever.

mumbai Updated: Jun 27, 2011 00:38 IST
Kunal Purohit

The new open spaces policy has made a bid to win back the lost open spaces of the city, but a fine reading reveals that the civic body has chosen to go soft on plots that have either been given to institutions on old leases or where leases have expired. This could mean that some of the city’s rightful open spaces could be lost forever.

Ironically, the most glaringly soft approach has been reserved for trusts that have defaulted on lease conditions and steadfastly refused to return plots back to the city which were allotted to them on caretaker basis.

These include the Matoshree and Supremo Clubs in Jogeshwari, built on designated open spaces, by Sena corporator and now legislator Ravindra Waikar as well as the Kamla Vihar Sports Club in Kandivli by the Bharatiya Janta Party legislator Gopal Shetty.

The Hindustan Times is in possession of the policy, which will be made public on Tuesday. The new policy has provisions for plots given on lease.

Here, it differentiates in its approach towards those whose lease has expired and those who are currently in their lease period. Plots in the first category are further differentiated in two subcategories — those given on lease before 1966 and those given after 1966.

In the first subcategory, the original leaseholders will retain the plot, and the lease will be extended by 30 years. The policy has devised a formula by which the new rent will be calculated, taking into account factors like the number of years the plot was used for and the current rent.

In the second category, where the lease was given post-1966, the original leaseholders get to retain the plot if they wish to. The leaseholders will have to pay 25% of the one-fourth area of the plot according to ready reckoner rates, while paying a premium of Rs 3,000 per sq m on the remaining area of the plot.

In cases where the lease still continues, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will carry out on-field surveys to check if the conditions of the lease have been violated. If violations are found, then the lease agreement will be cancelled and the plot will be taken back, according to the policy.

The controversial part, however, is about the civic body’s decision to not take any strict action against those trusts, which were given plots on a caretaker basis.

According to the policy, the BMC will ask the trust to pay, for the area constructed upon, 25% of its ready reckoner rates and take back the remaining space to keep it open to the public. The BMC will also make the trust pay a premium for the upkeep of the plot, at a rate of Rs3,000 per sq m for the open area.

The HT has learnt that the civic body was contemplating taking back the complete plot from such trusts. However, what prompted this climb-down from that position is unknown.

Said a senior civic official, “Paying premium is no big deal for such wealthy political trusts. The profits that the plot will continue to fetch them will be much more than the premium being made to pay. The only solution to this would have been to take back the plot from them in its entirety.”