Agriculture Land vanishing for Real Estate Development

DrChaturvediBy Dr Sanjay Chaturvedi, LLB, PhD

Poor rain falls and dry spells for last four years making farmer give away their land to builders and developers for real estate development. Another reason for change of land use from agriculture to non agricultre is small pockets after family partitions are useless for farming. Small farmers joining together, like for example Magarpatta City in Pune, and going in for township development. Rural Maharashtra have found solution to dry and drought in real estate.

Agriculture and forest are the two important heads in the land utilisation of the district and account roughly for nine lakh acres. The general topography of the district is such that it encourages cultivation and favours the growth of forest. As forest can be said to form only a part and parcel of agriculture, taken in a comprehensive term, the district reflects itself in a peculiar agricultural economy. The dependence of agricultural operations on forest resources for robbing and similar other purposes is a phenomenon known widely. In brief, forest is as important as cultivation in representing the wealth of the district.

Agents are active to convert agricultre land into industrial or residential zones. Even Adiwasi lands are not spared. Collectors and Revenue Department do not hesitate to convert No-Development Zones (ND) into lucurative real estate business. Forest lands and Private Forest lands are also converted into small bungalow schemes. In a acre, 1600 sq ft is aloowed to be constructed. Many such schemes have sprouted where one acre land is sold under agriculture society.

One of the biggest jolt came in Karjat and Shahayadri Range where it is declared as World Conservative Heritage Eco Sensitive Zone where nothing can be constructed. But there are always grey areas in implementation. We have almost 80% of such areas sold and / or developed into real estate projects.
Sudhagad, Alibag, Mangaon, Panvel, Mahad and Roha appear to have contributed substantially to the net area to be developed under real estate projects and in the district. Similarly, except Mhasla, Shriwardhan, Poladpur and Murud all the sub-divisions seem to share their land with developers in the total forest area. Roha, Poladpur and Sudhagad account for most of the area under current fallows. With the exception of Roha, Murud and Shriwardhan every sub-division appears to have not made a sizeable addition to cultivable and other waste land in the district. Kalyan and Dombivali area have seen almost 10,000 acres put to use as residential zone converted from agriculture land. The haphazared way of zonal classification and absence of Regional Plan since 2003 in MMR have given boost to unplanned residential zones.
Like other districts of Maharashtra, Kolaba is essentially a district of villages. There are altogether 1,788 inhabited places in the district of which 1,776 are villages and 12 municipal towns, 10.5 per cent of the population of the district living in the urban area and the remaining 89.5 per cent in the rural area. Of the towns three, i.e., Panvel (pop. 14,861), Srivardhan (pop. 10,299) and Mahad have each a population of more than ten lakhs since 2001; seven, i.e., Murud (pop. 9,744), Uran (pop. 8,672), Pen (pop. 8,607), Alibag (pop. 8,191), Roha (pop. 6,880), Ceul (pop. 6,751) and Revdanda (pop. 5,987) have each a population of more than five Lakhs since 2001; and two, i.e., Mhasla (pop. 2,971) and Matheran (pop. 2,808) which is a hill station, have reach a population below five lakhs since 2001. Of the villages,, except for Canaje in Uran Peta which had a population of 6,100, twenty-eight villages have each a population between 2,000-5,000, 121 between 1,000-2,000, 379 between 500-1,000 and 1,247 below 500, all have reached above one lakh.

The migratory trend and decongestant of Mumbai city now can be seen on its outskirts. Panvel alone will house 30 lakh families in next three years as huge agriculture land put to use for residential purposes. The revenue of State government from Non-Agriculture land have increased six fold since 2010 because NA tax is collected for all converted lands.

The national waste of scare and cultivable land into residential/ commercial / SEZ/ and industrial use is in offing. With no takers, in the name of affordable housing, rural land will be open for every ECB / FDI and profit mongers who will square their profits with such projects. An estimate of Dec 2015 show that there will be 22 cr sq ft under construction in Thane city and its District right from Ghodbundar Road till Badlapur etc. Panvel, Kalyan and Dombivali will have 34,000 acres soon as non agriculture land put to real estate projects.

To de-congest cities, land is essential commodity. But when Navi Mumbai is still left with land grant it has received for development why these rurual areas are put to such development?

The sale of two land parcels by City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (CIDCO) in Navi Mumbai has fetched higher prices than three months ago, signalling a revival of interest in a market that has largely been frozen since mid-2008.

A 5,000 sq. m plot in Kharghar was sold through tender at Rs 75,515 per sq. m, more than the Rs 68,000 per sq. m that Piramal Sunteck Realty Pvt. Ltd paid in a CIDCO land sale in August. The other plot, of 1,500 sq. m, also in Kharghar was sold at Rs 61,000 per sq. m, higher than the current market price by Rs 5,000-7,000 per sq. m. If CIDCO behave like a private builder and wants to sell land at such a high price, the development in all 14 nodes of Navi Mumbai will go to rural areas of Panvel.

According to the 1951 Census, there were 167,957 occupied houses in the district (61.8 per sq. mile), 150,716 in the rural area (56.4 per sq. mile), and 17,241 in the urban area (409.5 per sq. mile). These occupied houses accommodated 189,468 households, 170,097 in the rural area and 19,371 in the urban area. This gives an average of 1.12 households for each occupied house both in urban and rural areas. Today the city is having approximately 2,17,000 persons residing in about 32,000 houses. But today, almost 18000 acres converted into non agriculture and there will four million population suppose to be accommodated. In Panvel, Of the total area of nearly 17 lakhs of acres (16,96,181 acres), the cultivated area was 7,76,449 acres (45.77 per cent) and area under forests 4,09,684 acres (24.15 per cent) in 1958-59.  Where as today, almost 54% of the total area is converted into non agriculture with no information as to ratio between industrial or residential use.

The customary laws of inheritance and succession led to the sub-division and fragmentation of holdings, thereby making cultivation uneconomic. The Bombay Prevention of Fragmentation and Consolidation of Holdings Act. 1947, is being implemented to consolidate uneconomic fragments and improve the present position. But unfortunately, there was no way out to pay off, small land holders surrenderd their interest to lucrative Real Estate Development.

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