MVA must not enforce new reckoner rates: Activist Niraj Gunde

Updated: 28 September, 2020 07:16 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

RSS-linked activist raises questions about the drastic changes to base prices of flats across the city, and alleges that these will eventually only benefit a certain section of developers

High-rise buildings dotting the Mumbai skyline
High-rise buildings dotting the Mumbai skyline

The recent changes in the ready reckoner (RR) rates could become a new bone of contention between BJP and MVA, as social activists and many in the developer fraternity have alleged that the decision to reduce the rates in certain areas of South Mumbai and some elite suburban areas and increase them in extended suburbs is a scam.

The RR rates have been increased in Bandra, Juhu, Andheri and Versova and increased in extended suburbs like Kandivli, Borivli and Dahisar. Activist Niraj Gunde, a Chembur-based engineer whose family supports the RSS ideology, has claimed the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government's decision was a scam. Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat has strongly refuted the allegations.

'Don't enforce new rates'

The RR rates are market values of a property determined by the government for payment of stamp duty during property transactions. Gunde claimed the new rates will benefit a section of developers and result in revenue loss to the state government and the BMC, as the stamp duty and premium receipts would go down. He has urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to personally look into the issue. "In fact, the CM should immediately initiate an enquiry and stay the implementation of the new rates until the enquiry is over," Gunde told mid-day.

A general view of high-rise buildings in the commercial district of South Mumbai. Representation pic/AFP
A general view of high-rise buildings in the commercial district of South Mumbai. Representation pic/AFP

Cong intervention sought

The state revenue department, which is headed by Thorat — a Congress leader, plays a crucial role in drafting the RR rates. "Since Congress is involved, I have asked Gandhi to take details and immediately act on them."

Gunde has even tweeted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, mentioning the possibility of a scam and need for a detailed investigation.
"New zones have been deliberately created... so that no one can compare new rates with old rates, and prices have been reduced. Surprisingly, the RR rates in newly carved out areas have been dropped and those closer or adjacent to these areas are either the same or have been increased," Gunde tweeted.

Can't understand logic

A big-time real estate player form Mumbai also said that he and many others in the fraternity are unable to understand the logic behind the government's decision to increase the rate in areas where the middle class are showing interest in properties, and reduce in localities where the upper middle class and rich are making purchases.

"It's like adding a burden on poor/middle class citizens and passing the benefits on to the rich," the developer added.

Balasaheb Thorat, revenue minister
Balasaheb Thorat, revenue minister

Other side

Thorat told mid-day RR rates are decided on scientific method [based on property transactions in particular areas] and that his office has absolutely no role in the entire process. "The RR rates are decided by the Inspector General of Registration and Stamps office. The file doesn't come to the revenue minister or his office. There is no merit in the allegations." But, he promised to look into the matter. "If any particular case is brought to the department's notice, the MVA government will not hesitate in taking action against erring people and even in rectifying the error, if any."

Expert speak

Real estate expert and advocate Vinod Sampat said such allegations are common when there are changes in RR rates. "Still, if someone feels that there is something fishy in the new RR rates, they should approach the court instead of taking to social media."

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First Published: 28 September, 2020 07:02 IST

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