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Maharashtra govt rapped for lack of transparency in grant of lease on land

CAG stated the data on leased lands was incomplete and there was a lack of uniformity and transparency in the allotment or grant of land on lease

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The Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) has rapped the for its present land policy.

In its report, “Performance audit on government land given on lease”, which was tabled in the legislature on Friday,  The stated the data on leased lands was incomplete and there was a lack of uniformity and transparency in the allotment or grant of land on lease.

The CAG carried out an audit of land leased for agricultural, residential, industrial, commercial and social purposes through collectors and development agencies including civic bodies of Mumbai, Pune, Maharashtra Housing & Area Development Authority (MHADA) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). Incidentally, the civic bodies, MHADA and MMRDA fall in the purview of urban development and housing departments currently held by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.

Out of 1,755 lease cases from the collectorates at Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburban and Pune, 756 cases had expired between 1940 and 2008, while in the Mumbai civic body (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation), 17 cases had expired. The CAG, however, said no action was taken for the renewal or eviction from these lease lands. In six cases, additional lease premium aggregating Rs 272.4 crore due to non-completion of construction within the stipulated period was not recovered by MMRDA, which is engaged in planning.

“We found in six cases the construction was not completed within the prescribed period of four years. No system was put in place by way of returns and inspection to ascertain the status of construction. There was nothing on record to indicate the lessees had sought extension for construction. The lessees were liable to pay additional premium aggregating to Rs 272.4 crore at 10 per cent,” the CAG said.  The auditor has asked the government to advise MMRDA to put in place a system of periodical returns and regular inspections to ascertain status of construction and levy premium when grant of time extension was due to be sought.

According to the CAG, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai should have terminated lease agreements of five textile mills and one dal mill admeasuring 41,716 sq m. The civic body should have returned the land to the government in all these six cases.

“Out of these six cases, in two cases, the purposes were changed from residential to commercial land and in one case, it was changed from residential to industrial. The land continues to be in the possession of the lessees. The two lessees who have got the land use changed to commercial have gained financially,” the CAG noted.

Further, the CAG has observed that the monitoring, coordination and internal control measures were inadequate in the collectorates as inspection of leased lands to ensure compliance to the conditions of lease and utility of land for the allotted purpose was lacking.

Even in cases where breaches were detected, a follow up mechanism was absent due to which the action was not taken to its logical conclusion for evicting the erring lessees.

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