From ‘lessee’ to owner: A 58-year-long battle for Panshet flood displaced living in housing societieshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/from-lessee-to-owner-a-long-battle-for-panshet-flood-displaced-living-in-housing-societies-5618849/

From ‘lessee’ to owner: A 58-year-long battle for Panshet flood displaced living in housing societies

State government finally makes provisions to grant them ownership of houses they have lived in for over five decades.

panshet floods, pune, maharashtra government, housing, housing societies, pune news, indian express news
As per a Government Resolution issued on Friday, over 3,000 flood-affected families staying in 103 housing societies will get relief similar to 3,988 home-owners, who were given ownership of their homes in an earlier decision by the government. (Representational Image)

Fifty-eight long years after the Panshet flood-wrecked their homes, over 3,000 families again have a home they can call their own, as the state government has finally given in to their demands and made provisions to give them ownership of the houses in which they have been living for the last five decades.

This marks the end of a decades-long and ultimately successful battle by residents of 103 housing societies across Pune to secure ownership of their houses. As per a Government Resolution issued on Friday, over 3,000 flood-affected families staying in 103 housing societies will get relief similar to 3,988 home-owners, who were given ownership of their homes in an earlier decision by the government.

How devastating was the Panshet flood?

In the early hours of July 12, 1961, the under-construction Panshet dam breached at about 5 am, causing massive floods in Pune and surrounding areas. By the time the water receded, it left a trail of destruction behind. The worst-hit were low-lying areas and those located near the river in the old city. They were almost completely submerged. Residents of Peth areas in the old city, Karve Road and Deccan Gymkhana had to flee their homes.

Nearly 1,000 Pune residents died in the floods.

As the floodwater receded, the state government announced that it will build houses for those who had lost their homes in the devastation. Over the years, as many as 103 housing societies came up in parts of the city — Gokhalenagar, Lokmanyanagar, Sahakarnagar, Erandwane, Parvati Darshan, Dattawadi, Shiv Darshan, Nisenahat and Bhavani Peth — where the flood-affected were rehabilitated.

Why weren’t they given ownership of these houses?

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Although the houses were built as promised, for the ‘rehabilitated’ residents, a legal issue persisted. The houses were provided to them on a 99-year lease. This meant the families were not owners of the houses, they were merely the ‘lessees’ as the land on which the houses were built belonged to the state government. This led to several legal hassles for the residents.

“We were not able to mortgage the house to get a loan, and we were not able to sell the houses without obtaining a permission from the government…,” said Mahesh Kharate, who founded Panshet Purgrasta Samiti, an organisation that worked to resolve these issues.

Have these issues been resolved?

In August 1987, the first step towards making the rehabilitated families owners of the houses was taken, when the state government undertook an exercise to ascertain the status of the flood-affected residents. But there was little forward movement in the matter since then and the administration kept dragging its feet in taking a final decision.

Almost 32 years later, the state government took its next step by issuing a resolution in the matter on Friday. It stated that the residents of the houses could become owners by paying an amount, which included ready reckoner rates as on February 1976 (as per the Inspector General of Registration and Controller of Stamps) and an agreed-upon interest on the land rate since 1976, till the payment of the amount. Following this, the ‘leaseholder’ will become the ‘holder’ of the property.

In case of those who have sold the ‘leased land’ after obtaining permission from the state government, the transaction can be regularised by payment of an additional 50 per cent on the amount arrived at after using the aforementioned formula. Plots sold without obtaining permission from the government can be regularised by payment of 100 per cent over the amount calculated using the formula.

Those who have been using the allotted property for commercial purposes can become owners of the property by paying an additional premium of 50 per cent of the difference between the ready reckoner rate of the property for residential use and commercial use as per ASR (Annual Statement Of Rates) rules.

The new GR ensures that the issues faced by 103 housing societies will be resolved, said Kharate.