Revenue dept finds that no lease agreement was ever signed with the govt since allotment in the 1960s.
A total of 118 buildings in the city’s toniest address — the Backbay reclamation area, extending from Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade to Girgaum Chowpatty — have got no legal right over the land. None of them has signed a lease agreement with the government.
A senior official from the state revenue department said although land was allotted — some as early as the 1960s — to several builders and corporates on payment of a one-time premium, a formal lease agreement was never drawn up. “The agreement was to be drafted by the law and judiciary department, but it did not do so. Revenue officials also did not follow up with the department.”
He said the omission came to light after several applications for sale of office or residential premises in these buildings were placed before the revenue department. Since the buildings stand on government land, a no-objection certificate from the revenue department is mandatory for such sales. “It was when we began examining the documents did we realise that there was no lease agreement for 118 buildings.”
The revenue department has now started issuing notices to the proprietors to sign lease agreements. “There is a problem, however,” said the official. “Many of the original builders are long gone and housing societies have taken over management of the properties. These societies will have to pay the stamp duty for registration of the lease. But with today’s ready reckoner rates, the stamp duty will run into crores of rupees and the societies are not willing to cough up such a massive amount.”
Meanwhile, the district collector’s office has initiated the process of taking possession of 368 properties in the island city whose leases have expired. “The collector issued a notice a few months ago, asking owners of 697 leased properties in the island city to renew their lease in a month,” said the revenue official. “A total of 368 property holders failed to do so.”
The official said another public notice will be issued soon and if the leaseholders do not still do not respond, then the authorities will begin taking back the properties.
Most of the 697 properties were given on a 99-year lease, which began lapsing in the 1990s.