Cheap land for politicians: Maharashtra scraps policy, increases rates

Sources say concession regime will stay in future, as a new policy will be placed before the Cabinet

The state Cabinet on Tuesday scrapped the old policy of allotting government land at dirt cheap rates to politician-controlled trusts, charitable institutions and educational institutes.

Hema Malini was given 2,000 sq m at Ambivli in Andheri for running a dance school at R70,000. This land costs  R50 crore at market rates. File pic
Hema Malini was given 2,000 sq m at Ambivli in Andheri for running a dance school at Rs 70,000. This land costs  Rs 50 crore at market rates. File pic

The scrapping, which was against the backdrop of a controversy related to BJP MP Hema Malini’s land allotment, will facilitate the government to charge more, based on the ready reckoner rates prevailing in the areas where the land parcel is sought.

However, the concession regime is going to stay in future as well, said a government official, adding that the new policy in this regard will be placed before the Cabinet very soon.

“Till then no new land allotments will be done until a new policy on who gets what concession is formed,” he said.

The amendment approved on Tuesday will not affect Hema Malini. “The policy does not apply with retrospective effect,” said revenue minister Eknath Khadse.

The Government Resolution (GR) of 1984 allowed land meant for cultural or educational purposes to be given on lease at 25% of 1976 rates.

The land seekers, usually influential politicians, have a say in the deal and make authorities calculate charges on the basis of best lowest rates.

Trusts seeking land in rural areas will now have to pay more. Rates of land near highways will be calculated at commercial rates and not agriculture land rates which are usually low.

Many politicians including former Congress chief ministers late Vilasrao Deshmukh and late AR Antulay, Congress MP Rajiv Shukla (he returned the land after a controversy) and the BJP’s late Gopinath Munde have benefitted from the policy. Most of Congress and NCP leaders have benefitted from the policy. Politicians from other parties too were obliged.

Hema Malini was given 2,000 sq m at Ambivli in Andheri for running a dance school at R70,000. This land costs R50 crore at market rates.

Currently, the government has also leased out hundreds of plots across the state to educational institutes, hospitals, playgrounds and cultural centers.

The trusts that use these pieces of land are not taken to task despite violation of norms that allow such allotment. Schools and colleges make huge profits and exploit the land for commercial gains. Hospitals hardly provide medical assistance to economically weaker sections.

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