(TOI, Nov 7, 2010)
PUNE: The civic body’s proposal to extend the duration of the lease period of civic properties is mired in controversy with civic activists alleging that the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has not prepared a draft for the changes proposed in the policy.
Six years after it became the first civic body in the state to have a land lease policy, the PMC now wants to extend the duration of the lease period from the current 30 years to 99 years. The policy was ratified by the Bombay high court.
The PMC has invited objections and suggestions from citizens to the proposed changes. The suggestions and objections should be sent to the land and property department of the civic body within a fortnight from November 3.
“The PMC has not prepared any draft to seek suggestions and objections on the proposed change. On what basis should citizens register their suggestions and objections?” civic activist Vijay Kumbhar asked. Kumbhar and other activists have approached the municipal commissioner on this matter.
Deputy commissioner (land acquisition) Sudhakar Telang, however, said that the suggestions and objections were sought only to extend the duration of the lease period. “If citizens want to go through the existing policy it is available with the PMC. Suggestions and objections have been invited only on the issue of duration,” said Telang.
At present, the civic land lease policy bans the PMC from selling its properties, but allows it to lease the property for 30 years. The PMC has leased out many of its properties, including open spaces.
Activists allege that most properties have been leased out to organisations and people with connections to corporators and politicians. In 2003, Kumbhar had approached the high court which had ordered that civic properties be leased only through a tendering system.
The civic body owns about 3,500 properties reserved for hospitals, community halls, libraries, schools and other amenities. Many properties have been leased out for various purposes, but there is no system in place to check whether the properties are being used for the purposes they have been leased out for. The PMC has not recovered rent from hundreds of properties for several years.
(TOI, Nov 7, 2010)