THANE: The Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) has invited accusation of criminal negligence and policy ambiguity over the leasing of vacant amenity plots which are said to be exploited by politically connected private enterprises for commercial and business.
Residents and activists pointed to a half-acre amenity plot adjoining the Niharika Complex along the Glady Alwares road which has for long been rented out to a private firm organizing exhibition and sale of handicrafts. Another amenity plot at Vartak Nagar is commonly used for hosting wedding and other programmes, purely for the commercial gain of a private agency or a group which is politically connected, it is believed. There are around 50 amenity plots within the city area, 16 of them lying vacant with no construction on them. These plots, having an area of anywhere between 118 sq m to 5,420 sq m, are located in Majiwada, Kavesar, Manpada, Pachpakhadi among others and are under the control of the estates department of the TMC till they are leased or developed.
“In the absence of any clear guidelines on the rentals or any policy about whom to lease out these plots, it is proving a fabulous windfall for civic officials as well as those who occupy the se plots for long durations. The ward officers are often unclear over the issue and use their dis cretion to issue permissions and when discretion is used it is bound to favour someone,” said BJP corporator Mukesh Mo kashi.
The amenity plots are under the ownership title of the TMC which secures these small vacant plots from developers in return of permission for com mercial development of a plot measuring over 20,000 sq m. The TMC is expected to ma ke use of these amenity plots for facilities like playground, li brary , theatre, and school, etc.
However, with no clear policy on the use of these prime-loca ted plots, the TMC is leasing it out for commercial use.
Senior NCP corporator Hanumant Jagdale said, “Such blatant commercial renting of amenity plots is a misuse of civic property . There is a high court order that restrains the TMC from leasing out the amenity plots unless a policy is formulated,” he said.
“We rent the plots based on public demand and only after analyzing that the purpose of which it is being leased would benefit the larger local community. The rates are levied by the ward office as per the Ready Reckoner. No records are available with the headquarters about the transactions. We are working out a proposal for framing a proposal,” said Sanjay Herwade, deputy municipal commissioner of TMC.