The Maharashtra government on Tuesday became the country’s first state to extend buildable area and fiscal sops to greenfield educational institutes which are accorded the ‘Institute of Eminence’ status by the Centre.
On July 9, the Union HRD Ministry had granted this status to Reliance Foundation’s Jio institute, which is proposed to come up on an 800-acre land parcel in Mumbai Metropolitan Region’s Karjat taluka. While the ministry has cleared six such proposals, officials said the Jio Institute is the sole greenfield project among these.
The remaining five are IISc-Bengaluru, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bombay, Birla Institute of Science and Technology and Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
Although the construction work for the proposed Jio institute is yet to commence, the Centre had imposed a condition that it must become operational from 2021. The government had earlier invited flak for according the Institute of Eminence (IOE) status to an institute that is yet to come up.
The Cabinet on Tuesday extended sops and concessions being offered to developers building integrated townships in semi-urban belts in the state to such institutes. Officials admitted that the Jio institute, being the first greenfield project in the category, will be the immediate beneficiary.
According to the proposal, the IOEs will be permitted to exploit higher building rights on green land. Replicating the formula being used in the case of integrated townships, they will be entitled for a total floor space index (FSI) of 1 on the plot’s gross area for construction purposes.
FSI, also known as floor area ration, defines the extent of construction permissible on a plot. It is the ratio of built-up area to the total plot area. In line with the township policy, the perk will be available to any project being set up over a plot area of 40 hectare or more. While townships can also avail additional FSI depending on their plot size on payment of premium to the government, this has so far not been extended to IOEs.
The Cabinet also cleared the decks for the diversion of farm lands for setting up the educational institute. It has proposed to waive off the provision of the Mumbai Tenancy and Agricultural Land Act, 1967, which permits only an agriculturist to purchase farm land. Further, even land tagged as hilltops, no-development zones, hill slopes and industrial zones can be reclaimed for construction on payment of a premium ranging between 10 to 20 per cent of the ready reckoner values.
Moreover, the government agreed in-principle to grant other special concessions, including deemed conversion for non-agricultural use, a 50 per cent exemption in the payment of development charges for the construction, and exemption from the limit (ceiling) for holding agriculture land, among others. On the basis of a request from the UGC, the state higher and technical education department had also proposed concessions in payment of stamp duty for IOEs, but sources said that the revenue department, which is the nodal department for collection of the levy, has strongly opposed it.
Higher and Technical Education Minister Vinod Tawde, when contacted, said: “The whole idea is to encourage organisations to set up world class institutes in the state. The government will back such projects.”
Following the Cabinet nod, the government has appointed a ministerial sub-committee to work out the remaining modalities, and resolve issues raised by the revenue department.
In an official communication, Tawde’s department has justified the perks citing “intense competition” among states to host IOEs. The government has, however, stated that all the perks will be withdrawn in case the Centre revokes the IOE status.
Further, the FSI concessions will be chargeable at market rates if the institute fails the complete the construction work within three years.
Reliance Foundation declined to comment on the matter.