From ET Realty
MUMBAI: Actor and BJP MP Hema Malini on Monday defended the allotment of land by the state government for her dance institute, saying it was her “right to demand space for the spread of Indian culture”.
The 2,000 sq m plot is located near Andheri’s Lokhandwala Complex, one of the costliest parcels of real estate in the suburbs. Hema has also got the adjacent 27,000 sq m plot to develop as a garden. The total spread is seven acres.
“Thank you for creating this hue and cry and helping popularize my institute. But how is it land grab? It is my right to get land for developing a cultural institute. In fact the project is a white elephant for me. Imagine developing seven acres of land as a public garden,” a defiant Hema said at a press meet.
She has not yet received word on the amount she has to pay, the MP added. The suburban collector had recently responded to an RTI application by activist Anil Galgali, saying the MP would likely be charged Rs 70,000 as per the applicable ready reckoner rate dating back to 1976. According to government rules, a charitable trust or education trust would have to pay only 25% of the cost of the land as per the rates on February 1, 1976, said a senior officer from the revenue department.
Pointing out that her party was now in power both at the Centre and in the state, she said nevertheless, her claim had received support from previous Congress regimes also.
Interestingly, most questions at the press conference were fielded by Sunil Rane, the Mumbai BJP general secretary. “Hemaji has waited 22 years to acquire the plot. Fortunately she is now MP from Mathura. She was earlier given a tract of land near Versova which later fell under the coastal regulation zone. She will return that plot once she receives the new one,” he said.
The controversy comes at a time when the civic authorities are demanding the return of several playgrounds and recreation grounds from existing caretakers. Rane dismissed the comparison, saying Hema’s allotment was made by the state government’s revenue department, not the BMC.