Mumbai

Mahalaxmi race course could soon gallop out of uncertainty

Mumbai: The state cabinet is likely to clear a new extension policy for 160-odd leased properties located at prime locations, paving the way for renewal of lease of all schedule ‘W’ category plots. These properties, whose lease have expired over the years, include the Life Insurance Corporation Building and the Thomas Cook Building at Fort, among others. “Even though this new policy is not case specific, it will make it easy for all ‘W’ category lessees to apply for a renewal if they are willing to pay the revised rentals,” said a senior official of the State revenue department.

The move is likely to face stiff opposition from Shiv Sena and its ministers when the proposal comes up for an approval in the Cabinet on Tuesday, sources said. The Sena has been demanding that land leased out to the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) — one of the affected properties, and whose 99-year lease ended in 2013 — be used for the construction of a mega theme park and, later, thrown open to the public. However, open space activists had claimed the park once thrown open for development could well fall prey to the land sharks. The Sena proposal, they had claimed, was nothing but a plan to name the proposed theme park after its patriarch and founder Bal Thackeray. The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has since then put the controversial issue of RWITC renewal on the backburner.

However, according to the latest proposal of the State revenue department, the revised rentals of the plots will be charged as 2% of the 25% share of the government as a lessor on residential, 4% on industrial and 5% on commercial properties. The revised rates, officials said, will remain applicable for the next 30 years.

The revised rentals for the ‘W’ category could fetch government upwards of Rs. 200 crore annually, and increase the rates charged by the government to as much as Rs 2,500 per sqm. Currently, rentals for some of the ‘W’ category properties are stuck at Rs. 45 per annum and Rs. 100 per annum for each property.

The policy for lease plots and properties was last introduced based on market rates in 1999, but was challenged in the courts. The decision was withdrawn by the then government in 2006. Last year, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had cleared a Draft Estate Policy for 4,177 plots it had leased to private players. Of these, lease of 230 properties had expired and pending approval. But the BMC policy had left the ‘W’ category untouched. The corporation had not only increased rentals but also increased the leased period to 99 years from the existing 30 for all properties with an exception of the ‘W’ category.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 1:52:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Mahalaxmi-race-course-could-soon-gallop-out-of-uncertainty/article14685287.ece

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