BMC to discuss policy that will renew lease of Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse
A portion of the racecourse land is owned by the state, and the remaining is owned by the BMC, which had leased it out to the RWITC in 1914.mumbai Updated: Jan 14, 2018 00:45 IST
The policy that will enable the state government to take a call on renewing the lease of several leasehold plots, including the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC)-run Mahalaxmi Racecourse, is set to come up for discussion in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) general body meeting soon.
According to the ‘breaches’ policy (as it is called by civic officials), the leases of the plots whose agreements have expired but cannot be renewed due to breaches or violation of lease conditions will get renewed for a tentative period of three years. Within this time, the tenants can regularise all breaches by paying a fine amounting to 7.5% of the ready reckoner rate. After three years, if all breaches are regularised, the BMC will take a call on renewing the lease for a longer duration.
The breaches include sub-letting of properties, making changes in the structures without prior nod or using it for purposes other than those mentioned in the agreement. It is also applicable to 34 schedule W properties that were found having breaches, including the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. BMC commissioner, Ajoy Mehta, said, “The breaches policy facilitates the renewal of expired leases by regularising breaches. In that sense, it applies to the Racecourse land.”
A portion of the racecourse land is owned by the state, and the remaining is owned by the BMC, which had leased it out to the RWITC in 1914. The RWITC’s lease expired in 2013. In March 2017, the state had issued a policy for schedule w plots, which mandates that the BMC can renew lease of 160 such plots. While the policy applies to the Racecourse, the state mandates that any decision related to the Racecourse, will have to be approved by the state.
During the active lease agreement, the BMC earned Rs20 lakh per year as rent. The passage of the policy in the general body will give the state a free hand to decide whether to continue Turf Club’s lease of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. If it decides to apply the renewal policy to the Racecourse, the rent RWITC will have to pay will increase 50 times.
The state has been losing crores of rupees in the form of rent. Khushroo Dhunjibhoy, chairman, RWITC said, “Turf Club has made no breaches to the lease agreement.” The Shiv Sena has stalled the policy as its passage is will jeopardize Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s plans to construct a theme park on the racecourse. Leader of the house in BMC, Yashwant Jadhav, (Shiv Sena) said, “Shiv Sena will ensure it is postponed.”