October 26, 2000,
Govt bonanza for lease-holders
AMRITSAR, Oct 25 — The cash-strapped Punjab Government has decided to sell off leased properties/shops belonging to local governments at throwaway prices to the lease-holders.
In this way a cash-strapped government plans to cut short its 99-year-old lease in order to hundreds of crores in a short span.
Earlier, the government had also decided to dispose off vacant urban land through Punjab Urban Development Authority under the Optimum Utilisation of Government Vacant Land (OUGVL) scheme. The land proposed to be sold included some bungalows of Deputy Commissioners and other senior officials.
In a circular issued by director-cum-special secretary local bodies issued to all commissioners of municipal corporation regional deputy directors, the executive officers and nagar panchayats the state government has decided that municipal shops on rent may be disposed of in favour of the existing occupants at 40 per cent of their market price. The market value will be determined by district level committees to be chaired by Deputy Commissioners. Commissioners/ executive officers mayors/presidents of local bodies will be members of these committees.
Sources said that the lease, which is for 99-years, is an assured sources of income for successive governments. The lease cannot be cut short as a memorandum of understanding is signed between the government and the concerned party. Since no leaseholder has challenged the state government’s decision it is clear that they are happy to convert into owners of the prime municipal lands at “throwaway prices”.
The market rate on which the leased properties would be evaluated would be based on the registered deeds, which is normally kept very low to minimise stamps duties.
For shops inclusive of roofs, roof rights will be sold of at 50 per cent of market value determined by the committee. The municipal properties on long lease for commercial purposes will also be sold at 50 per cent of their market value. Sub-tenants will be eligible for acquiring property rights provided they simultaneously deposit ten years rent on the properties in their possession.
Inter alia it has also been decided that the council of minister’s decision would be a one-time exercise and the package will operate only for a period of six months. The circular urged the Deputy Commissioners to determine the market value of these properties within three months.
A senior bureaucrat who pleaded anonymity said that if the present government disposed of all these properties future governments would face an unprecedented financial crisis.
Educational institutes which also have land on lease are unable to take
advantage of the move as they can’t make lumpsum payments. Nor has the government differentiated between charitable trusts and commercial units while taking the decision. What is worse, once the leased land is sold to the occupants, they will free to construct multi-storeyed buildings at the cost of open spaces.
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