//Prime land for a song

Prime land for a song

MUMBAI: Guess what Richardson & Cruddas pays for a 1064.39 square metre plot at Byculla? All of 69 paise as annual lease rent. What’s more, the lease expired in 1992.
This is just one example of the ridiculously low lease rents trickling into the state’s exchequer from expired leases that continue without renewal.
Wallace Flour Mill at Mazgaon nearby pays Rs76.18 a year for a 29,346.21 sq m plot. Nearby, Vijaylaxmi Hariram Ruparel pays 81p for a 955.70 sq m plot. Vishnu Dingmal Advani, probably an individual, does better. He pays 23p for another Mazgaon plot measuring 264.21 square metres.
There are several big names on the scroll of expired leases, mostly in the island city, paying annual rents that would make a beggar envious.
According to data procured by activist Shailesh Gandhi under the Right to Information Act from the collector and the BMC over a year, there are 386 expired leases with the collector alone. The lessees haven’t renewed these deeds but continue to pay laughable rents.
The state government land involved is 298 acres – or about half the total mill lands area – at prime locations in the city.
These fetch the government just Rs2.53 crore a year. All these leases have expired, but the collector’s office has not renewed them or renegotiated the rents. It continues to collect the pittance without murmur.
Nearby, the Mumbai Port Trust too is sitting on a gold mine. It has expired leases for 243 acres of land that fetch it just Rs1.52 crore a year.
The BMC has a lesser area under occupation – 38.9 acres of land earn it a measly rent of Rs2.79 crore long after the leases have been timed out.
Worse, it’s not as though the lessors are getting even this money in full. The BMC, for instance, got only Rs1.75 crore in 2004-05 though the lease deeds entitle it to Rs2.79 crore.

Seema Kamdar, Sunday, February 12, 2006  00:33 IST