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Maharashtra Assembly Clears Bill That Allows Sale Of Public Plots Across State

A legislation that aims to clear the decks for permitting sale of public lands previously allotted on lease or occupancy basis was cleared by the state legislative assembly on Thursday. Nearly two months after the Maharashtra cabinet decided to offer the option of disposal of such public plots, the government introduced a bill in the lower House, and secured an approval.

The move comes at a time when controversy continues to rage over contentious land allotments made to celebrities and trusts controlled by politicians.

While the previous Congress-NCP regime had in 2012 permitted conversion of lease lands to occupancy basis on payment of premium at ready reckoner rates, the latest move is aimed at further decontrol of such lands. For land grants on occupancy and lease, there are restrictions over the transfer of land or change of use since their ownership vests in the government. Converting such grants on ownership basis would permanently lift these curbs and transfer full rights to the holder.

While the bill dealt with amendments required to be introduced in the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code to permit disposal of public land, Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse informed the House that a committee under Principal Secretary (Revenue) Manu Kumar Srivastava had been constituted to design rules defining terms and conditions and the premiums at which conversion to ownership will be permitted.

The Minister has earlier clarified that land grants allotted on lease for public uses such as hospitals, recreation grounds, educational complexes, and gymkhanas, among others, won’t be offered on sale. “The committee will suggest the category of grants for which the option can be extended,” said Khadse.

Official records show that about 1, 04,396 lakh grants exists on occupancy rights in Maharashtra. Back in 2012, the then government had courted criticism for permitting conversion of lease lands at RR rates on grounds that actual real estate values, especially in areas around urban centres such as Mumbai, were higher than the RR rates.

The government has argued that the decontrol measure will rev up the economy and remove bottlenecks in development of such lands. The move will also clear decks for regularisation of unauthorised use or transfer of such lands. There has been had been rampant misuse of these plots in the past.

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