The state government on Tuesday doled out a major sop for legalising thousands of unlawful constructions on agricultural land in rural and fringe areas of cities. To endear itself to the burgeoning middle class ahead of the Assembly polls, the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet on Tuesday significantly brought down the premiums and the penalties payable towards their regularisation. According to the sanctioned proposal, all such developments would now have to pay just 25 per cent of the market value of the plot as per the government’s ready reckoner for legalisation of the land use. Until now, such land holders had to pay 75 per cent towards the same.
Rampant urbanisation and growing agrarian distress have seen farmers illegally subdivide land meant for agriculture into smaller plots and transfer or sale them to others for construction of dwelling units. Over the years, several lakh dwelling units have been constructed on such land, also referred to as gunthewari development as these sub-divisions are in multiples of gunthas.
In 2001, then Congress-NCP government had first brought Maharashtra Gunthewari Developments (Regularisation, Upgradation, and Control) Act to recognise such developments. In case of Inam (land gifted by the ruler/government) and Watan (land alienated) for a service, the land holder is required to pay nazraana (premium) equal to 50 per cent of the plot’s market value and an additional amount equal to 25 per cent of the market value as a penalty, apart from the compounding and development charges, which are also linked to the plot’s ready reckoner values. With rapid urbanisation, market values of such land, especially in semi-urban areas, have gone up significantly.
Behind the decision to lower premiums and penalties, officials said that the government is banking on the fact that the flow of regularisation proposals would increase. In 2010, the Congress government had taken a similar decision, but this was only applied to proposals where the regularisation had been approved.
Now, in one stroke, the BJP government has extended the sop to all such developments. On Tuesday, the Cabinet modified five Acts to allow the concessions. An official, however, said that the sop is not being extended for Inam land meant for Devasthans (gifted to a temple trust for temple purposes) and Mahar watan land.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the government had come up with a policy for mass regularisation of unauthorised constructions.