The BJP-led government in Maharashtra will give a 2,000 square metre plot in Mumbai’s upscale Andheri to actress and party parliamentarian Hema Malini for Rs 1.75 lakh to set up a dance school.
More than that, she need not pay a penny for the land worth about Rs 70 crore in the suburban neighbourhood because of a twist of fate.
The throwaway price drew widespread criticism against chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is accused of showing undue benevolence to the actress-danseuse known as the Dream Girl during her Bollywood heydays in the 70s.
The government clarified that it had not fixed the price but followed existing policy, which state that charitable and education trusts are required to pay only 25% of the total cost of an allotted land in accordance with rates on February 1, 1976.
Sources said the collector’s office revaluated the price and found that the market price in 1976 was Rs 350 a square metre. This amounts to Rs 7 lakh for 2,000 square metres. Thus, 25% of Rs 7 lakh is Rs 1.75 lakh.
The plot’s value is around Rs 23 crore, according to the government ready reckoner rate. But real estate industry sources said the market value could be anywhere between Rs 60 crore and Rs 70 crore.
The decision came after 19 years as Malini had applied in 1996 for land to set up a dance school and cultural complex through her charity, the Natya Vihar Kala Kendra.
The Fadnavis government allotted the plot in Andheri’s Ambivli locality on December 29, 2015.
Earlier, the 67-year-old trained Bharatnayam dancer had paid Rs 10 lakh for a plot allotted to her by the Shiv Sena-BJP government in 1996.
But she could not use the land because it falls in the protected coastal regulation zone. Hence, she was forced to reapply for an adjacent plot, a revenue official said.
Mumbai suburbs collector Shekhar Channe said the actress won’t have to pay a single rupee for the Andheri plot since she had deposited Rs 10 lakh in 1996 and it would be adjusted now.
It has been alleged that she was yet to return the land given to her in 1996.
State revenue minister Eknath Khadse had tried to deflect criticism, saying the BJP government was implementing a decision taken when the Congress-NCP was in power. “The previous government had changed the plot’s status, which was earlier reserved for a public ground,” he said.
Malini didn’t respond to calls and text messages for her comments.