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Government may sell leased land to raise thousands of crores in revenue

Hundreds of acres of prime land, currently on lease, across Maharashtra could soon be converted into freehold -allowing them to be sold and bought commercially – by the Devendra Fadnavis government, which is looking for means for generating additional revenue.

A committee, headed by Revenue Secretary Manukumar Srivastava, has been tasked with devising a formula for the transfer. According to a senior revenue official there are 1291 properties on lease — for periods varying from 33 years to 999 years – in Mumbai itself out of which the lease for 691 properties has expired.

“Mumbai collector has appealed to lessees to renew (lease agreements) or the government will take their properties back. We will either make them permanent owners or take possession if they are not interested in the properties,” said a senior revenue department officer.

As per the existing land use rules in Maharashtra, government land is given out under two categories; first, where the land is held by occupants in perpetuity without any land use restrictions, and second where the occupants cannot transfer the land without government permission. The government is yet to decide which category of lease lands will be transferred into freehold.

“There are some hospitals to which state had given land with social considerations in mind. If we transfer them to freehold, we will lose the quota of 20 per cent free beds meant for poor people,” the revenue department official said.

The decision to amend the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code, 1966 was taken in February this year, and the amendments were cleared in the subsequent budget session. Maharashtra’s former revenue minister Eknath Khadse — who took the decision to amend Code – claimed the move could help the state garner Rs. 50000 crore in revenue.

“I took several decisions during my tenure that will change the scenario of the department. However the Government Resolution of many decisions is yet to be published,” he said.

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