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Indian Real Estate News : Kolkata
Lease leash on New Town plots
Source: The Times of India Sep 23, 2013
No more freehold plot in Rajarhat New Town. The Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) will now allot plots only on leasehold basis.

Hidco auctioned some plots recently and is inviting bidders to buy plots - all on leasehold basis for 99 years.

Unlike the neighbouring township of Salt Lake, where all plots are leased for 999 years, several plots in New Town were handed over on freehold basis, allowing the owners to sell off the land if they wanted. Several plots were allotted accordingly for residential and commercial purpose, mostly in New Town Action Area 1.

Senior government officials said that an order issued by the land and land reforms department last year makes it mandatory for all government to be given out on leasehold basis only. The advantage is that lease conditions enable proper monitoring of the use of land and ensure that it is not left unutilized for long, say sources. It also helps prevent speculation on land and there is difference in land price, said an official. According to the new policy adopted after the Mamata Banerjee government came to power, no allotted plot can be kept unutilized for more than six months. However, authorities have noticed many such idle plots.

Officials said that 25 such plot holders have been identified and a special drive will be taken after the Pujas to either take back the unused plots or ask the allotees to start construction work immediately.

“We are preparing a list of all such plots and will undertake a drive soon. The plot holders will be called for hearing to explain why they have kept the plots idle for such a long time,” an official said.

Many plots have been handed over to private partners in New Town for commercial purpose like schools, colleges, hospitals and other institutes.
Officials said that by handing over plots on lease, the authorities can retain more power than on the plots than those allotted on freehold basis. In case of Salt Lake, the urban development department took a landmark decision last year to allow sale of residential plots. Till last year, plot holders had no right to sell their house or plot as they were only lease holders and the urban development department is the owner of the land. However, this had not stopped the illegal transfer of plots over the years, forcing the government to allow the sale.

Hidco has also allowed non-residential plot owners to get additional floor area ratio (FAR) if their plots are located within 250 meters of the Metro railway line being constructed near the central business district in New Town. This is in keeping with the state government’s aim for optimizing land use and planned densification of urban areas, say officials. Those seeking additional FAR will be charged a fee ranging from 36% to 67%, depending on the year the plot was allotted.

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