Mumbai petrol pumps give way to malls, so sites to be reserved

In a city where land commands a mega premium, a HPCL petrol pump near Nanawati hospital along SV Road, Vile Parle, has given way to a multi-storeyed mall, so has another one next to Sena Bhavan at Dadar. Next to the Kemps Corner flyover on Peddar Road, a showroom has mushroomed where an IOC petrol pump once stood.

Alarmed at the rate at which petrol pump plots in Mumbai are giving in to the lure of real estate, the Maharashtra urban development department will issue orders declaring petrol pump sites as designated reservations. Estimates available with the state government say 132 of the existing 253 petrol pumps might face closure over the next decade.

If the pump sites become designated reservations, owners of these lands can no longer sell plots to builders for construction of commercial or residential complexes since these can only be used for petrol and diesel pumps. These plots have areas ranging from 10,000 sq ft to 20,000 sq ft each, and are among the few open patches available in the city.

In Mumbai, oil marketing companies like IOC, HPCL and BPCL have leased out most petrol pump sites from private land owners. With the Maharashtra Rent Control Act coming into force in 2000, public limited companies having a paid-up share capital of over Rs 1 crore have lost their tenancy protection against rent increase and eviction. This has led to an imbroglio where landowners agree for lease renewals only if the oil companies are willing to pay them rentals as per market rates. This would mean a four-time increase in current rentals for oil companies.

Since then, the tussle over rent has led to six petrol pumps reverting to the landowners who in turn have sold it to developers. Leases of another 51 plots have expired and are stuck on litigations. Since a majority of these are in South Mumbai, the owners are in no mood to renew the leases as per old rentals, said an official from BPCL which runs 126 petrol pumps in Mumbai.

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