Amidst indications that the state government may renew the lease agreement of the 8.55-lakh square metre-Mahalaxmi race course with the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), there is no clarity over what the new rent will be.
This is because the racecourse is a Schedule-W property, which means that the land belongs to the state but is leased out by the BMC, and there is no clear policy on it. However, the final decision lies with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan.
However, if the state government’s revised lease rent policy is applied to the plot, then the RWITC might end up shelling out almost Rs42 crore annually as rent, as opposed to a meagre Rs56 lakh annually. The hiked rate is calculated as per the new policy at 2 per cent of 25 per cent of the government’s fixed ready reckoner rate (RRR) — Rs 98,500 per square metre — for that area.
If the RWITC chooses the second occupancy option — to buy out the land conditionally — it will need to pay a whopping Rs 1,684 crore, which is 20 per cent of the RRR.
However, the government is still undecided on this. “Right now, there is no specific policy for these properties. The BMC has asked us whether the new state policy should be applied to them. We said that we will be examining it separately and taking a decision,” a senior state government official said.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has demanded that the race course be shifted out of the city and the land be developed as a public park. But the state is non-committal on this. Government officials fear that the Sena will use the park as a memorial for Bal Thackeray. “I have not made this demand and this is not the time to discuss this issue,” Sena president Uddhav Thackeray said.