Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Re 1 rent for 1,672 square metres in Matunga

MUMBAI: * In 1873, K S Thakkar and four others were given 2,350 square metres of land in Mazgaon for next to nothing. The lease rent was Rs 1.53 a year. The lease expired in 1972, but the collector has not bothered to renew it and meekly collects the rent set 140 years ago

* Yahyabhai Adamji Jasdanwala and two others leased a land measuring 1,814.39 sq m in Byculla in 1885. The lease lapsed in 1994, but the amount collected continues to be Rs 5.65 a year

* M/s Prithvi Cotton Mills has two leased properties admeasuring 1,597.83 sq m in Malabar and Cumbala Hill, for which the lease expired in 1996. But the rent the state gets stands at Rs 4.98 a year.

* Yo San Ching Than Bing and two others leased a 1,672.25 sq m property in Matunga. Despite the lease ending in 1998, the collector's office collects a pittance of Re 1 annual rent, which was set in 1889.

* The lease rent of Rs 1,592.94 a year for Retreat House in Bandra, with an area of 94,200 sq m, has not been revised since the lease expired in 1950

Lease deals for close to 700 properties in the island city and suburbs have run out of time. For most, the leases ended years ago. Yet the lessees continue to pay rents set over a century ago, sums that amount to a trifle today.

Former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi sought information under the Right to Information ( RTI) Act on lands that Mumbai's two collectors let out. Gandhi estimated that the city collector books an annual loss of about Rs 1,550 crore and the suburban collector a loss of about Rs 1,200 crore because leases have not been renewed.

What is shocking is that the city collector's office is clueless about another 103 properties that have been given out and hence does not know when those leases end. "Some leases are renewed, while some are allowed to continue at the old rates. What are the reasons for such irrational actions? This is due to carelessness or corruption," said Gandhi.

Currently, the annual revenue from all the 1,278 properties leased out by the city collector is Rs 48.82 crore and the 295 plots let out by the suburban collector fetch Rs 20.59 crore. City collector Chandrashekhar Oak said it is true that the leases for about 550 properties have ended, but his office had started sending out letters asking lessees to shell out the new rent or buy out the property. Mumbai suburban collector Sanjay Deshmukh said his office had already sent out 129 notices for expired leases.

Both the collectors reasoned that there had been a delay in collecting new rents because the 1999 rent renewal policy of the state had been challenged in the Bombay high court and the state had drawn up a fresh one only in December 2012.

Gandhi said citizens must speak against the state policy of selling off these properties at subsidized rates of 20% for residential, 25% for industrial and 30% for commercial. Applying an average of 25% on all plots, Gandhi said the ownership rights would be given out for Rs 2,248 crore by the city collector and Rs 1,841 crore by the suburban collector if all the properties were sold. "Citizens must protest before the government dispossesses us of our land and legitimate revenue. If we can get the government to auction off the leases in Mumbai and all over Maharashtra we could have a revenue stream of over 25,000 crore each year," said Gandhi.
Share your views