The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra said Tuesday that it won’t cancel government land allotted in Mumbai at a concessional rate to BJP MP Hema Malini, thus ending speculation over the matter.
The state government’s move to allot a 2,000 square meter plot to the actor-turned-politician for a dance academy had earlier sparked a controversy, which had prompted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to announce revision in rules for allotment of lands on concessional rates.
Maharashtra Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, however, clarified on Tuesday that Hema Malini’s charitable trust— Natya Vihar Kala Kendra— was provided the plot under prevalent rules on December 23. “Any revision in rules cannot be applied retrospectively. Hence there is no question of rescinding the land allotment to the trust,” an official communication from Khadse’s office said.
Denying allegations that Hema Malini’s trust had been offered the land at a paltry rate of Rs 70,000, Khadse further said, “The valuation of allotted land is yet to be carried out.”
But just as this controversy rages on, the Maharashtra government on Tuesday admitted to cases where lands that had been leased or allotted on occupancy basis had been undervalued. In fact, to curb loss to the state exchequer, the state cabinet adopted a proposal that lays down guidelines for valuation of lands.
For urban and semi-urban areas where development plans and regional plans are in place, authorities have been directed to value lands on the basis of ready reckoner rates (RR).
RR rates are market values determined by the government for a plot. For pockets where such plans are yet to be finalised, RR values of adjoining areas are factored in.
In rural areas, where discrepancies in land valuation are more prevalent, the government on Tuesday issued instructions that government rates fixed for potential non-agriculture use of a land be taken into account. Authorities have been asked to collect 100 per cent of such rates for rural pockets that abut a national or state highway. For other areas, they have been asked to factor in 50 per cent of these rates while carrying out valuation of lands for allotment.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had earlier rapped the state government for undervaluation of allotted government lands.