Other States

Row over Hema Malini plot forces government to cancel the policy

The unrelenting controversy over land allocation to actor Hema Malini, also a Bharatiya Janata Party MP, for a dance school in a prime area for a measly Rs 70,000 led the Chief Minister on Friday to cancel the government resolution (GR) that allows the state to sanction plots for charitable purposes at throwaway prices.

CM Devendra Fadnavis confirmed the development to The Hindu. “Yes. I have given orders to cancel 1983 GR and come out with a new policy based on current rates,” he said. When asked whether the actor will now have to pay for the plot as per the current market rates, the CM said that the state cabinet will decide the date of applicability.

Last week, activist Anil Galgali had released information that he had obtained under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from the Mumbai suburban collector that stated that a plot admeasuring 2000 sq m at Ambivli in Andheri was given for the actor’s dance school at Rs 70,000. The market value of the same plot is estimated to be around Rs 50 crore.

Government officials said the state has not entered in to any agreement with Ms Malini’s trust till now. Following the cabinet decision, there is a possibility that she may have to pay for the land as per the market rates, they said.

The government has so far maintained that the said plot has been allotted to the actor according to the decisions and existing norms decided on February 8, 1983 and May 11, 1984. “The policy allows charging 25% of the ready reckoner rates of 1976 for the use of land for cultural/social or educational institutions. No decision has been taken outside the purview of this policy,” said the GR dated May 11, 1984.

Revenue minister Eknath Khadse had even released a list of beneficiaries, including politicians from all political parties who received plots for their respective educational institutes. The list includes the late Vilasrao Deshmukh, A.R. Antulay of Congress to the late Gopinath Munde of the BJP.

A senior official from the Revenue Department said the move was being planned for the past few months. “The original order is 30 years old and it is always required to review old government decisions as time passes. While the government believes that such cultural centers, educational institutes are required which will give certain facilities at economical rates,” he said.

At present the plots are leased out by government at extremely low rates to run educational institutes such as schools and colleges, hospitals, playground, cultural centers to learn several art forms etc. The present policy has a clause to cancel the lease agreement if the recipient is found violating the norms of the agreement.

The officer further stated that the new policy will also review various aspects such as eliminating any of the present categories. The officer also clarified that the plot to Ms Malini will not be handed over until she fulfills the conditions put forward by the government, which include returning her old Versova plot. The actor could not use the old plot since it had fallen under Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ). She may also land in trouble since another RTI query had revealed that the actor was served a show cause notice by the state government in 1998 for destroying a portion of mangroves.

Pointers:

What it means

The CM said the new policy will be based on current market rates.

As per the old policy, the state government was charging ready reckoner rates of February 1, 1976, which was Rs 140 per square meter

The government announces new ready reckoner rates for every year

So, as per the new policy existing ready reckoner rates will be applied

It will not only increase the government revenue, but is likely to stop the practice of allotting plots at throw away prices

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 7:09:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/row-over-hema-malini-plot-forces-government-to-cancel-the-policy/article8199307.ece

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