Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai that belongs to the business tycoon Ratan Tata has received the notice of eviction from the Mumbai Port Trust, who is the city’s biggest landowners that own the most of the area surrounding the queen’s necklace, the marine drive of Mumbai. You may wonder if Taj is the only place that owes dues to Mumbai Port Trust. There are total 47 establishments that owe huge rent dues. Which are those businesses and how much do they owe? Read the complete report here.
According to the news published by the Mumbai Mirror tabloid, The Mumbai Port Trust, the city’s biggest landowner, has issued an eviction warning to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever and 47 other establishments over huge rent dues. The most shocking fact here is that the rent runs into crores of rupees and been due for years.
The establishments, which operate on the port trust’s land, mostly in south Mumbai, each owe over Rs 50 lakh and have been listed as its top defaulters, according to a senior MbPT official. Some companies have not paid over Rs 10 crore. “As of June 20, the lessees owe more than Rs 100 crore to MbPT,” the official said.
The payment notices sent to the companies follows fresh efforts by MbPT to improve rent recovery from 2,500 establishments -commercial, industrial, residential and government -that use 275 hectares of port trust land. “We should be getting around Rs 500 crore from rentals every year, but receive only around Rs 200 crore,” the official said.
The port trust owns 750 hectares of land, from Colaba in the south to Wadala in the north along Mumbai’s eastern seafront. The rentals were fixed in 1975 and revised in 1981, but many tenants refused to pay more and approached courts. In 2004, the Supreme Court suggested a new rate, but MbPT officials say many tenants continue to pay according to the 1975 formula.
According to the sources, The Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), or the Taj Group, is supposed to pay a rent of Rs 1crore every year for the 4,000-sq mt plot it has leased. Another senior MbPT official said the company had not made payments for the past several years. The company had earlier challenged MbPT’s payment demands in the Bombay High Court and the matter remains in dispute. “Negotiations with the company are underway and we hope to strike at an out-of-court settlement soon,” the official said.
An IHCL, owners of Taj group of hotels spokesperson refused to comment on the eviction warning, saying the matter was sub judice. “But IHCL is a responsible corporate citizen and we ensure that all our third-party obligations are met,” the spokesperson said.
Hindustan Unilever which is another multinational giants who have leased two land parcels from the port trust, one in Haji Bunder and the other in Hay Bunder in Sewri. The company has challenged higher rentals in the High Court. In the past 10 years, the port trust has evicted 70 tenants and recovered around Rs 600 crore. It has made payment demands totaling Rs 1,000 crore to several defaulters.
This might sound little weird when such a huge responsible corporate are in the process of evading the rentals on the grounds of revision and challenging the same in the court of law while the same companies are making millions of rupees from their consumers and that too with the present rates.