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HomeNewsTop NewsWest Bengal amends land policy to allot plots on freehold basis

West Bengal amends land policy to allot plots on freehold basis

As per the state's land allotment policy framed in 2012, land parcels could be transferred only on long-term lease for a maximum of 99 years.

Overwhelmed by the huge response from private players who are quoting high bids to get land across the city, the Bengal government has amended its land allotment policy, allowing land other than that vested under its ‘khas’ possession to be transferred for commercial purposes on freehold basis subject to approval from the state cabinet.

As per the state’s land allotment policy framed in 2012, land parcels could be transferred only on long-term lease for a maximum of 99 years.

During the Left Front ten-ure, many land parcels in and around the city were distributed on freehold basis. After coming to power in 2011, the Mamata Banerjee government stopped freehold allotment following complaints of irregularities in land use and came up with a lease-only policy to keep the ownership rights in its hands and to bring transparency in dealing with public land assets.

However, with demand for land on the rise for real estate purposes and rates increasing in coveted areas with infrastructure and social amenities like malls, Metro alignment and flyovers, the government wants to maximise revenue earnings since the capital appreciation of freehold land is much higher than leasehold ones.

The government recently received a bid of over Rs 400 crore for a 5.6-acre land parcel at Alipore and another of Rs 203 crore for a 6.2-acre plot for a housing project in Raj-arhat. For the Alipore plot, Hidco had fixed a starting bid price of Rs 236.7 crore.

With an eye on generating more revenue, the Bengal government has amended its 2012 land allotment policy to transfer land for commercial purposes on freehold basis, which is more lucrative, instead of the earlier leasehold basis.

According to officials in the land and land reforms department, currently, the valuation of a plot transferred on long-term lease is based on market price as determined by competent authorities.

“The government is exploring options of unlocking land assets to generate revenue, which would be much higher if the transfer is on a freehold basis. However, vested land under its ‘khas’ possession would be transferred only on leasehold basis,” an official said.

Following the latest amendment in the allotment policy, the government is now planning to e-auction four land parcels located in Nonadanga, behind Silver Spring and on BL Saha Road on freehold basis.

Experts say the amended policy would have no issues if it conforms to legal parameters.

“Land in Salt Lake was given on 999-year lease for residential purpose, but ultimately what happened was that many of these leasehold plots were illegally transferred before land transfer was legalised in the township. The present government must have explored all the legalities before coming up with the amendment,” said a legal expert.

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