There is a commonly used cliché ‘tip of the iceberg’ – the Swiss bank accounts are just that. In fact people in India are probably laughing at this spectacle and all the news around this story as most of the black money is probably inside India and likely most of it in real estate.
Ok, But what’s the connection between the words in the title – Delhi – Pollution, Lieutenant Governor and Black Money – Read On…
Having just flown back from Goa , the difference in air quality is obvious – from the plane itself you can make out the smog that engulfs the city. In fact a red alert has been raised over the air quality in Delhi. A TV anchor even lackadaisically mentioned this (with a smile) – “pollution levels are so high that they will cause respiratory problems and even cancer” – Gurgaon probably even worse with all the construction going on. The pollution in Delhi makes this city almost unliveable.
All cities have buses and other vehicles – what keeps them clean ? The Green Belt – Delhi has quite a bit of it – from the ridge areas to the farms on the outskirts of Delhi – which are supposed to give Delhi some breathing room – clean up the air and so on.
Actual Cost – Twenty Crores Per Acre Or So
But did you know this green belt (what was meant to be Delhi’s saviour from pollution) has now become the most prized real estate in the country. The rule being that in a two-and-a-half acres of land a small house can be built (probably around 2000 sq ft). In reality people have built up over 20,000 sq ft – which is fine – I am not against large homes rather I am for them within the law. But given these homes are built on farm-lands – property taxes are probably very low – now is that fair / just – is this not a subsidy to people with wealth (black money) ?
Circle Rate – 50 Lakhs An Acre
If you wish to buy these farms – you may be shocked that the circle rate (the minimum amount you have to pay by check is only 50 lakhs or so) – the rest to be paid in cash (black money). So for a twenty crore farm – you will pay 50 lakhs by Cheque and 19.5 crores by Cash and for transactions in illegal colonies like Sainik farms where lands are sold via power of attorney – there is not even any record of any sale/purchase.
Delhi Farms Are The Best Place To Hide Your Black Money
And many politicians and industrialists have availed of it – Kamal Nath, Rahul Gandhi, Satish Sharma and many more – the list of farm owners would read like a who’s-who. The best part of it – when you declare your wealth – you claim the circle rate to be the value. e.g. Rahul and Sonia claim their farm is worth less than a crore, when it is probably worth ten to twenty times of that.
The 2021 Master Plan – Crafted not by MCD but the Land Mafia
This plan seems to have been crafted by the land mafia and not the MCD (or are they the same?). This new plan now recommends breaking up the farms and creating LDRA (Low Density Residential Units) – Instead of one unit on a two and a half acre farm – they will now allow three units on a one acre farm ! And remember we are talking about the Green Belt of Delhi. Having a large home on two and a half acres was bad enough for the environment – now we will allow three units per acre ??
This has been in the works for a while and the Delhi MCD (BJP Ruled) and the erstwhile Congress have together some up with this plan. The land mafia has been attempting this for decades – Jagmohan (of the BJP) a decade ago had quashed this plan (he was summarily removed from his post) – and now they seem to be very close to succeeding in their current efforts.
Delhi is not able to “breathe” , the air quality is already so low with the current green belt – can you imagine what will happen in a few years when this green belt is further destroyed and seven-eight homes built on two and a half acres instead of one ??
Where does the Lieutenant Governor, Najeeb Jung come in this. Simple – Read On…
a) The property market is slow in Delhi – ask anyone – valuations of apartments/homes have fallen – there are not too many buyers.
b) The land banks owned by the politicians / land mafia in the green belts of Delhi is huge (including the new farm area in South-West Najafgarh and the entire periphery of Delhi)
c) Low Circle Rate For Farms – High Circle Rate For Apartments/Homes In Delhi
Now how do you divert buyers from buying apartments/homes to investing in farm areas and in the newer LDRA areas ? Simple – you increase the Circle Rate in non-farm areas – people with Black Money will gravitate towards the farm areas. The decision to increase the circle rate in Delhi was recently passed by Najeeb Jung and makes him look like a crusader against black money – A Win-Win for him.
But curiously there was no increase in the circle rate for farm lands in Delhi and property taxes remain low for these.
Need I say any more – Can you connect the dots.
And most importantly what about Delhi’s green belt – in what state are we leaving Delhi for the next generation. Pollution in Lutyens Delhi may be low (not really) – but the rest of Delhi is already unliveable and only going to become worse.
By Indrajit Chatterjee
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