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Hema Malini's dance academy gets govt land for pittance

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:31 IST

The allocation

  • Hema Malini got a 2000 sq metre land for Rs 70,000
  • Maharashtra govt gave her the land for a dance academy
  • The response to an RTI query revealed that

More in the story

  • What will be the real price of the land?
  • How did the govt come to the current price?
  • Why the land shouldn\'t have been given to Hema?

She was known as the 'dream girl', a Bollywood diva, and then she made a successful switch to politics.

And now, it seems, Hema Malini's loyalty towards Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has paid off: the Maharashtra government has allotted the parliamentarian a 2000 sq mtr plot at Oshiwara for a paltry Rs 70,000.

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This was revealed when a Right to Information (RTI) activist Anil Galgali filed an application with the Mumbai Mumbai Suburban Collector, seeking data on the allotment.

While the allotment itself is not being seen as a big deal, the abnormally low price in the land-starved city.

Real estate is perhaps the most sought-after resource in India's financial capital which has led the Metropolis to explode into several suburbs. But to be fair to the BJP government, this is not the first such case.

This is not the first time that ruling parties have favoured their leaders. The previous Congress-NCP dispensation allotted a plot to BAG, a company controlled by Congress parliamentarian Rajeev Shukla. It had to roll back the decision after widespread criticism.

And now it's the Fadnavis government. "The plot, reserved for gardens, in the Ambivli area was allotted at a pittance: Rs 35/sqm. Its market price will run into crores," Galgali said.

'Govt should develop such projects itself, not hand over land to pvt bodies'

Though the plot was allotted this year, it was valued according to the rates prevailing on 1 February, 1976. The current prevailing rate for commercial property in Oshiwara and Andheri suburbs is Rs 15,000-Rs 25,000/sq ft - that's between Rs 1.6 lakh and Rs 2.7 lakh/sqm.

"This is not all. In 1976, the valuation was Rs 140/sq mtr. Even at that rate, the government has charged her only 25% of the price," Galgali said.

According to the RTI activist, Hema was allotted a plot at Versova village in Andheri for Rs 10 lakh in 1997. "A part of that land was under Coastal Regulation Zone regulations, she did not construct on the plot."

"Also, according to the agreement, Hema Malini was supposed to raise 25% of the project cost, which was never done till date. Despite that track record, the state government acted benevolently and allotted an alternative land for her," Galgali alleged.

How was the land allotted?

The Hema Malini Dance Academy wrote a letter to the Maharashtra government on 6 July, 2007, seeking an alternative plot. It asked the govt government to allot 2,000 sqm of a 29,360.50 sqm piece of land (Survey No 109 A/1, CTS No 3, village Ambivili, Taluka Andheri) originally reserved for a garden.

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The academy assured the government it would bear the entire cost of developing the garden on the remaining land. The government accepted the proposal on 30 July, 2010 even though the academy failed to furnish details sought by the government.

"It seems she visited the plot on 14 August. The issue gained momentum after a meeting chaired by the Principal Secretary (Revenue) on 19 December. On 15 January, the Mumbai Suburban collectors office wrote to Hema Malini, seeking some documents and more compliances," the activist said.

Financial compliance not in place

The projected cost for the academy is Rs 18.50 crore. According to norms, it needs to have 25% of the funds with it and say how it would raise the balance 75%.

The academy, however, said it had only Rs 3.5 crore and would borrow the rest from banks, Galgali said.

The land was valued at a quarter of the rate prevalent in 1976

"The government should itself develop such cultural complex, instead of handing over prime plots to private organisations. This will save the cost and efforts to reclaim such lands in case of violations and expiry of lease in the future," Galgali said.

When contacted for comments, Hema Malini said she was out of town and would respond on return. Officials at the Mumbai Suburban Collector's office refused to comment.

Edited by Joyjeet Das

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First published: 29 January 2016, 5:42 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.