(Mid-Day, Nov 29, 2010)
Civic body kisses Rs 36 crore goodbye every year because of its policy of leasing properties for 99 years and poor recovery system
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) seems to be in a benevolent mood these days. The civic body is getting only Rs 4 crore annually from leased properties, but it could earn almost Rs 40 crore per year if it follows the market value rate. This means it collects just 10 per cent of the revenue that can be collected, an annual loss of Rs 36 crore.
This is because the PMC leases properties for 99 years and does not have a proper recovery system.
Vivek Velankar, RTI activist and president of Sajag Nagrik Sangh, said that property should not be leased out for more than five years. Also, it should be let out at market rate with a 10 per cent increase in rent every year. “The PMC does not have any right to lease out properties for 99 years. Leasing of property for such longer period amounts to indirect selling and the lease becomes irrevocable and perpetual,” he said.
BJP corporator Ujjwal Keskar said the PMC was hacking its source of big income by leasing properties for 99 years at meagre rent. “It’s pathetic the PMC does not even have a proper system to recover long pending arrears of rent,” he said.
The municipal body does not even have an updated list of properties owned by it and the arrears are increasing every year.
However, Keskar has released a list of 201 property holders who have arrears since last 28 years.
RTI activist and president of NGO Nagri Hakka Samiti Sudhir Kaka Kulkarni said the rent arrears go up to Rs 8.5 crore every year.
Prakash Barne, who runs a canteen in the PMC main building, has arrears up to Rs 1.07 lakh accumulated over 12 years. Sai Service housed in PMC-owned complex Savarkar Bhawan is to pay Rs 10.44 lakh since last 11 years.
Kulkarni said that none of the commissioner had taken any interest in making an updated list of leased out properties. “These lands are given to rich and popular personalities without considering the proper criteria.
Many of the leased properties have been given to family members of PMC officials and elected members,” he said.
Kulkarni said there was no system to verify if the property was even being used by the same person to whom it was leased. “We want a responsible officer who can handle this efficiently and give a clear picture of these properties to the citizens,” he said.
(Mid-Day, Nov 29, 2010)