The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fresh look at 999-yr DLF deal

Calcutta, Feb. 27: A rap from the Left partners and a CPM minister’s note has prompted Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government to rethink the 999-year lease to DLF for the Dankuni township.

On February 19, the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) signed a development pact and a lease agreement for the 4,870-acre township, about 15 km north-west of Calcutta.

Four days later, land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah asked his officers to send a note of disapproval on the lease. “We have to point out to the urban development department that 999 years means perpetuity. It amounts to more than ownership,” he was quoted as saying.

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said this evening that the government will do a rethink. “We’ll resolve the matter after discussions in the party,” he added.

Mollah had earlier written to the urban development department seeking a revision of the CMDA’s 999-year lease for the Salim Group’s west How- rah township. “We told the de- partment that a 99-year lease was the longest that could be allotted according to our manual. Anything above was against rules. If the lease for Dankuni is revised, the Howrah deal will also have to be rolled back,” the minister said today.

According to the West Bengal Land and Land Reforms Manual, a “long-term lease” should be for 30 years. The government has, however, offered lease for 60-100 years on many occasions.

The lease for all other new townships, including those to be built by Salim at Bhangar, Baruipur and Kukrahati, has been for 99 years.

The chief minister reportedly asked the urban development minister to take a fresh look at the Dankuni deal after partners CPI and RSP slammed it.

They alleged that the government had sold the land in the garb of a lease.

DLF will pay a lump sum of Rs 2,700 crore for the land and Re 1 as annual rent.

According to rules, the rent for a 30-year lease should be 4 per cent of the land’s market value and should be revised to 15 times of the earlier rent after completion of 30 years.

Last year, the land department had cautioned urban affairs against offering a lease of over 99 years.

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