Cost of land given to Hema yet to be decided; earlier land to be taken back

Cost of land given to Hema yet to be decided; earlier land to be taken back

Cost of land given to Hema yet to be decided; earlier land to be taken back
Under fire over allotment of land in Mumbai to actor and BJP MP Hema Malini at a throwaway price, Maharashtra government today said a plot in suburban Versova allotted to her earlier would be taken back even as officials were still to decide the cost of the newly-allotted land in Andheri.

Opposition Congress, earlier in the day, turned up the heat on the BJP-led government for recent allotment of land in Amboli area of suburban Andheri to Malini's Natyavihar Kalakendra Charity Trust at a throw-away price of Rs 70,000.

BJP defended it saying such allotments for cultural institutions had happened in Congress regime too.

"Revenue and Forest department has been ordered to place reservation for garden on the plot of land being taken back. The (latest) land allotment was not a new one, but was in the nature of alternate allotment," Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse said.

According to Mumbai Suburban District Collector Shekhar Channe, revenue officials were yet to evaluate the cost of the land in Amboli.

When asked whether Malini was being charged only Rs 70,000, he said, "The order for allotment in Amboli has been issued, but the cost of the land is yet to be worked out."

Khadse said the trust had applied for the land in 1996 for classical music, art, dance and other cultural purposes.

"In 2002, the possession of the land was secured by the trust after paying advance sum of Rs 10 lakh. But a portion of this land at Versova fell under the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) provisions and so the trust could not make any construction there," he said.

The trust then applied for allotment of a 5,000 sq metre of plot at Ambivali, out of a 29,360 sq m open land reserved for garden.

The government allotted 2,000 sq m of land to the trust with the condition that it would develop a garden on the remaining portion, the senior minister said. In 2010, the Urban Development department even held a public hearing over the allotment at Amboli, he said.

Hema Malini was not available for comments on the matter. Housing Minister Prakash Mehta said this was not for the first time that land was allotted to a cultural institution at a cheaper rate.

"You (must) see the tradition of Maharashtra in this regard. Prime pieces of land have been given on one rupee lease to institutions related to (the late Congress leaders) Yashvantrao Chavan, Vasant Dada Patil, Shankar Rao Chavan and so many," Mehta told PTI.

"It has been the tradition of Maharashtra to give land at nominal prices to those who run the institutions for purely cultural and academic purposes and non-commercial intentions," he said.

According to the documents obtained under an RTI query, the veteran actress was allotted the land in Amboli at the rate of Rs 35 per sq m which comes to Rs 70,000 in total, when its market price could be several crores of rupees.

"The government is indulging in double standards in allocation of the plot.This government had earlier said they will formulate a fresh policy on granting government land which directly affects the state exchequer but in the case of BJP MP, no such procedure was followed," Maharashtra Congress president Ashol Chavan said.

To a question, state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said though the decision to change the reservation on the plot was taken during the Congress regime, the present BJP-led government could have reversed the decision.