The state government on Tuesday indicated it was considering giving out land rights on long-term lease to encroachers on unused government plots.
State urban development minister Firhad Hakim said this while passing a new Thika Tenancy Bill on Tuesday in the state assembly that will now allow construction of multi-storeyed buildings on leased or ‘thika’ land in Kolkata and Howrah.
The ‘thika’ system allows lease of vacant land by the landlord to a tenant with the liberty to erect temporary structures. Till now, there was a ban on constructing buildings on such plots exceeding a height of 9.5m. The new law lifts that ban and entitles the ‘thika’ tenants to construct buildings up to five storeys, each floor measuring around 385 sq ft. The vertical growth is largely expected to help the government, which has been trying to unlock over 2,500 acres of real estate in Kolkata and Howrah.
Referring to the unused government land that has been encroached upon, Hakim said, “If the land is not required by the government, it can lease it out to the people who have been staying there. This is a cabinet decision and we have instructed the Block Land Revenue Officers (BLRO) to start the process. The government is also ready to provide financial assistance to the people under ‘Nijo Bhumi Nijo Griha’ and ‘Banglar Bari’ schemes. Our government has always made allowances so that people can live a better life.”
According to senior officers, the government was trying to free up land in Kolkata and the suburbs. “Government needs to clear the land of encroachers, which they can do by first providing them with homes or land and then building vertical buildings to accommodate them,” he said. An example is the pilot project at Duttabad in Salt Lake, where a multi-storeyed building now accommodates local families, who had to give up their homes and land to make way for the East-West Metro. In the second stage, such apartment complexes would be built in Chetla, Kidderpore and Howrah. Each floor of a six-storey complex would have four 1BHK flats, each of approximately 300 sq ft.
Urban development officials said some of the major government projects had been suspended because of encroachment. By leasing out encroached-upon land, the government is trying to get the projects completed. “There is a huge encroachment on the government land on the two sides of Tolly’s Nallah. Once the encroachment is removed, a project there can be completed,” a senior official said. The nearly 13-km stretch along Tolly’s Nallah starts from Hastings and ends in Garia.
The government also tabled The West Bengal Municipal Amendment Bill that empowers councillors to elect any person as the chairman, provided he/she gets himself/herself elected within six months. The information and cultural affairs department also tabled The Technician Studio Private Limited (Amendment) Bill through which the state will form a seven-member autonomous body with chief minister Mamata Banerjee as the chairperson that will regulate and control the activities of the studio.
Source: Times of India