Responding to the controversy over allotment of land to her for a dance institute at a throw-away price, actress-politician Hema Malini today said she has "not grabbed" the land and will abide by the government's rules regarding its purchase.
The Opposition Congress had earlier turned up the heat on the BJP-led government for the allotment of land at Ambivali in suburban Andheri to Malini's Natyavihar Kalakendra Charity Trust at a throw-away price of Rs 70,000.
"I have not paid anything as of now. I will follow all the rules and regulations of the government. Why speculate the price when I don't know myself how much I have to pay... whatever will be the cost I will pay it," she told reporters here. Malini also asked not to make it a political issue.
"Thank you all for making it an issue nationally and internationally. Don't make it a political matter. It's my right to make this dance institute in Mumbai as I have been living here. I don't know why an issue is made out of it," she said. The veteran actress also said that she has struggled for 20 years to get the land.
"It is not that I have got the land just like that... easily...it has been a struggle of 20 years. I have not grabbed the land as it's been said. The government has given it to me...not that I have gone and grabbed it," she said.
Malini has been alloted 2,000 square metres land for building her dance institute. Besides this, she has to develop a garden on the remaining 27,000 square metres land at Ambivali in Andheri.
"I am getting 2,000 square metres land for building dance institute - Natyavihar Kalakendra Charity Trust," she said adding that she will have to develop the garden and give it to the BMC which will then decide what should be done with the land.
Malini's trust had some years ago applied for allotment of a 5,000 sq metre of plot at Ambivali, out of a 29,360 sq m open land reserved for garden.
The government allotted 2,000 sq m of land to the trust with the condition that it would develop a garden on the remaining portion, state revenue minister Eknath Khadse had earlier said.
According to documents obtained under an RTI query, the actress was allotted the land at the rate of Rs 35 per sq m which comes to Rs 70,000 in total, when its market price could be several crore of rupees.
Malini further said she has been struggling to get the land for her dance institute since 1994. "We first sent a letter to Collector in 1994 requesting for a piece of land for setting up the dance institute. In 1996, we got land allotment and sanction letter, and in 2002, we paid revenue of Rs 10 lakh for the land in Versova," she said.
The actor-politician said in 2007, she was told that the land was under Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and can't build dance institute on it. "In the same year we asked for another land. In 2012, we got to know that an alternate land of 2,000 sq mtr has been allotted to us for the institute.
"In 2013, we requested the then CM Prithviraj Chavan to allot the land to us early. Then the proposal was pending and then new government came in, we requested them to clear the request for land at the earliest. In 2015, we got the letter," she said.
Malini insisted that she wants to build a dance institute for the society.
"The art that I have learnt I want to impart the classical dance form to the society...to children including for SC/ST. I want them to learn classical dance form. The institute doesn't belong to me, it is for the society," she added.