BMC downsizes own market from 1,100 sq m to 166 sq m

The owners of two plots reserved for a market that the BMC allegedly delayed acquiring, will now develop them thanks to a modified government rule; this will also leave only 15 per cent of the area for the civic body’s facility

The lackadaisical attitude of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in developing plots has come to the fore in the case of acquisition of two plots at Grant Road. As the civic body allegedly delayed paying a sum of R7.45 crore in the year 2007 to acquire land the plots will now be redeveloped by a private party thanks to a modified government rule that allows owners of plots marked even in the Development Plan to develop them. 

The two plots are adjacent to a retail market (the building in the middle) built by the BMC at Grant Road. Pic/ Shadab Khan
The two plots are adjacent to a retail market (the building in the middle) built by the BMC at Grant Road. Pic/ Shadab Khan 

The acquisition procedures of the two adjoining plots at Grant Road (West) were almost complete and a huge market could have been developed, as the Development Plan (DP) had reserved them for a market. However, a Congress corporator alleged that BMC delayed paying the money and later, after an amendment to a government rule that allowed the owners to develop such plots and hand over only a percentage of the developed area to the BMC, the owners decided to go for redevelopment themselves.

A proposal for redevelopment on the plots by the owners of the property reached the civic body in 2014. Members of the Congress opposed this, claiming it was the BMC’s fault that it did not develop a market. The proposal then reached the BMC’s Improvement Committee, and a member opposed it there as well. However, in his absence the proposal was passed in June 2014. Further on, the redevelopment proposal was passed this month at the General Body Meeting (GBM) of the BMC.

Needs discussion
Both the Improvement Committee member and corporator Mohsin Haider have written to the chief minister on this issue, and want the proposal to be reopened for discussion. The corporator said if the BMC had acquired the plots and developed them by spending only R13-R14 crore, the revenue could have been recovered in a year’s time by giving the market on rent.

Haider said that in 2009, a government circular was issued, saying if an owner of a plot reserved in a DP of BMC wants to develop the property, he can develop it and give 15% of the developed plot to the civic body. Haider said, “BMC delayed paying the money and the acquisition procedures were not completed, and later, after an amendment to the government rule allowed the owners to develop such plots and give over a percentage of the developed area to BMC, the owners decided to do it themselves. If the BMC had developed the plots, they could have got 1,100 square metres, but now the profits will be earned by someone else and the BMC will get just 166 square metres for the market.”

He then alleged that the BMC officials reminded the owners of the amended government rule when they sent them a letter in 2011 stating they would acquire the plot if the owners didn’t redevelop them, leading the latter to put up a redevelopment proposal that leaves the BMC with mere crumbs. He also added that even the administration found various loopholes: for instance, the BMC would have had to accommodate the tenants on the plots, which would have cost them nearly R14 crore, had they developed the plots themselves. Thus, the delay in acquiring them.

R Balchandran, the chief engineer of the Development Plan department, was not available for comment.

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