Port trust sends eviction warning to Taj over dues

MUMBAI: The Mumbai Port Trust, the city’s biggest landowner, has issued an eviction warning to Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, consumer goods major Hindus tan Unilever and 47 other establishments over huge rent dues.

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 south to Wadala in 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.

The Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL), or the Taj Group, is supposed to pay a rent of Rs 1 crore 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 under way and we hope to strike at an out-ofcourt settlement soon,” the official said.

An IHCL 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.


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