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Ghoom Khasmal Busty, A crore an acre in this village

Ghoom Khasmal village in Darjeeling
A computer software limitation has made the state valuation of land in a Darjeeling village Rs 1.12 crore an acre when in neighbouring hamlets the per-acre rate is about a tenth.
Ghoom Khasmal Busty is under the Jorebungalow mouza, the rest of which is the urban area of Ghoom. The entire area is under the Darjeeling municipality.
The hamlet of around 6,000 people is 12km from Darjeeling town and is a panchayat area.
Residents approached the district magistrate yesterday and requested that their land should be re-valued as it was not possible for them to pay a high stamp duty and registration fee for buying or selling land there.
The registration fee and stamp duty are calculated as a percentage of the government's valuation of land - in this case Rs 1.12 crore an acre.
Sangay Dukpa, the secretary of Ghoom Khasmal Busty Sangharsh Evam Vikas Samiti, said: "We were told the software cannot work out two different land values in one mouza. The problem is that both Ghoom Khasmal Busty and Darjeeling municipality areas in Ghoom are in Jorebunglow mouza."
Not too far from Ghoom Khasmal are the villages of Pokhriabong Khasmal and Rangbull, which are not part of the Jorebungalow mouza but come under the larger Sukhiapokhri block in Darjeeling. "One acre at Pokhriabong Khasmal is valued at Rs 13.72 lakh. One acre at Rangbull busty is valued at Rs 18.14 lakh," Dukpa said. Urban areas of Ghoom are valued at Rs 1-1.12 crore an acre.
Arun Chhetri, a resident of Ghoom Khasmal, said: "The valuation of Rs 1.12 crore per acre is equivalent to the land value of the Darjeeling municipality area in Ghoom, which is along NH55."
He said that because of the high valuation, villagers were unable to buy land or transfer it to others as they would have to pay a much higher stamp duty and registration fees than, say, someone at Rangbull.
Darjeeling lawyer Poonam Kumar Sharma said: "During registration of land, one has to pay 6 per cent of the valuation as stamp duty in urban areas and 5 per cent in rural areas. The buyer also has to pay 1.1 per cent of the valuation as registration fee."
This would mean that anyone buying an acre in Ghoom Khasmal Busty would have to pay as stamp duty Rs 5.6 lakh and a registration fee of Rs 1.23 lakh.
Dukpa said the block land and land reforms officer of Sukhiapokhri and the district sub-registrar had told the villagers that the valuation had been worked out using a software developed by the directorate of stamp revenue which cannot differentiate between rural and urban land in the same mouza.
The villagers yesterday told Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastava "to create two separate mouzas, one for Ghoom Khasmal busty and the other for the municipal area so that our grievance can be redressed".
Srivastava said: "It is not that land valuation in a rural area will always be less than the rate in the urban area. Everything is determined by the prevailing market rate. We will definitely conduct an inquiry to find out the prevailing market rate in the area and if we find it is less, we will revise the valuation."(TT)

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