The recent audits carried out by Auditor General (AG) of Maharashtra has pointed out discrepancies in the way government land is given out on lease in Pune. Of the 55 cases selected for audit,the AG observed that in 36 cases there was breach of lease condition,there was non-renewal of expired lease happened in 19 cases.
As per the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code (MLRC) 1971,the district collector is given the authority for leasing out government land on lease for various purposes. Land is given to trusts/individuals/institutions and other by the district collector on receipt of their application. The lease agreement drawn up between the government and the party in question spells the conditions,purpose,time rent and other specifications of the lease.
During the audit,the AG noticed that in Pune district there are 241 cases of land leases,of which 55 were selected for the audit. A total of 61 observations (non conformity of terms and conditions of lease agreement) were noticed during the audit.
Two cases of incorrect grant of lease were found,36 cases of breach of lease terms and 19 cases of non renewal of expired leases were noticed. Also four cases of irregular sale transfer of lease was observed during the audit.
The audit noticed that there was a lack of transparency in the process of granting of land to cooperative housing societies. The government resolutions of 1983 and 2007 had stipulated that before granting of land by the local authoity,the Collector should advertise in the local newspaper for the information of the general public so that people could form societies and apply for allotment of land for cooperative housing societies. During the scrutiny of the cases involving CHS Pune we did not come across any cases where selection of eligible persons was made on the basis of applications received from cooperative societies in response to advertisements,indicating the government procedure was not followed. No advertisements for the vacant land to be granted/re-granted on lease were being issued, the report read
While the report says that during the exit interview,the Additional Chief Secretary had accepted the recommendations and stated that GR issued would followed,revenue officers said the lack of proper man power in dealing with the leased land. Many of the agreement of the lease were drawn up years ago. In some case due to lack of computerisation we have not been able to keep the track of the agreements, the officials stated.
Civic activist Vijay Kumbhar said that the lack of manpower cant be the reason for not keeping a tab on leased properties. It is not a question of man power but lack of interest by the officials. In many cases ,the government officials are hands-in-gloves with the defaulters, he said. Kumbhar,had filed a petition in the High Court,which had compelled the Pune Municipal Corporation to keep an updated list of leased properties. Asking for criminal cases to be filed against officers who have failed to keep a tab on leased government land,he stated that officials purposefully turn a blind eye towards the issue.