The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Plots taken back in Salt Lake
- Apex court ruling on transfer of property by will blocks drive

The government on Wednesday decided to take back at least 120 plots in Salt Lake from owners who had illegally transferred their property.

The decision was taken at a meeting that urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya held with Bidhannagar Municipality chairman Dilip Gupta and senior officials of his department.

Minister Bhattacharya pointed out that the government was aware of the rampant transfer of land in Salt Lake, which was an illegal practice, as the plots had been distributed on a 999-year lease.

“We had received 906 complaints of transfer of land in Salt Lake, of which we accepted 810. After investigating them, we shortlisted 396. We wrote to the owners and received only 74 replies. In all, 120 plot-owners did not reply and we have reason to believe that they have transferred their property. The rest have moved court,” Bhattacharya said.

The process of taking back the plots from these 120 owners will begin immediately, the minister said. “We will also take over the plots of the 74 owners who had replied to our letter,” he added.

Bhattacharya said the very concept of distributing plots at a reasonable Rs 5,000 per cottah in the planned township to the Bengali middle-class had been frustrated by these illegal transfers. “Plot-owners have transferred their property at exorbitant rates through wills and powers of attorney to people with whom they do not even have a blood relation. However, we can’t touch those who have transferred property secretly by official wills, as there is a verdict from the Supreme Court on this score. Another way of transfer is showing the buyer as a tenant of the property,” the minister explained.

In cases where people were transferring property by making wills, the price fetched by the plot would match the owner’s age. “For instance, an 80-year-old man can transfer his plot at a price higher than an owner who is, say, 60 years old. However, we are helpless, as there is a Supreme Court order in this regard upholding wills,” said Bhattacharya.

The maximum number of transfers of land by wills were found in Sector I of Salt Lake. The other methods of transfer were adopted by plot-owners in Sector II and Sector III, he said.

“We want to stop this illegal transfer of land in Salt Lake. We will also seek an explanation from owners who have left their plots untouched for two or three decades,” the minister asserted.

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