In a city where nearly half of the population lives in slums, working their backs off to afford that extremely simple roof over their heads, there are some people who control large portions of land, passed down through generations or gifted decades ago in a city where land is scarce and where every square foot of space brings a huge premium.

The city holds countless secrets close to its heart, and one among them is the identities of those who own lands in Mumbai.

Who are they, and how much do they own?

For us, it was never Aamchi Mumbai; it was theirs, since the beginning!

According to a 2015 preliminary survey conducted by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), only nine private land owners and trusts own about 19.4%, or nearly 1/5th, of Greater Mumbai.

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It’s a 6,600-acre ‘realty’ check! While we were focused on stocks, they had already started investing in real estate.

Mumbai’s biggest land owners: 

NameAcres Of Land
Godrej & Boyce3,401 acres
F E Dinshaw Trust683 acres
Pratapsingh Surji Vallabhdas Khot647 Acres
Jeejeebhoy Ardeshir Trust508 acres
A H Wadia Trust361 acres
Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Group269 acres
Sir Mohammed Yusuf Khot Trust249 acres
Hirjibhai Dinshaw Billimoria206 acres
V K Lal70-100 acres

Was it genuine or encroached upon?

Not all land acquisitions were legal; some entities encroached on acres of land to claim it as their own. Here’s a list of those entities and how they acquired land under their name decades ago.

Godrej & Boyce

The SRA estimates that around 300 acres of land have been taken over, and the Godrej Group has become one of the leading real estate players in Mumbai due to its extensive land holdings.

The Godrej family acquired its land in the early 1940s from the Bombay High Court receiver. Initially given to Parsi merchant Framjee Banaji by the East India Company in the 1830s, the land became available for sale in 1941–42.

F. E. Dinshaw Trust

In the 1970s, the trust controlled about 1,500 acres, but a large portion was later acquired by the government under the Urban Land Ceiling Act.

Then the forest department took around 800 acres, and Mhada acquired another 65 acres for low-cost public housing.

A. H. Wadia Trust

In the early 20th century, the Cama family of Mumbai Samachar, managing the trust, owned 1/3rd of the land in Chembur.

Ardeshir Hormusji Wadia, in the early 19th century, obtained the lease for Kurla for a yearly rent of Rs 3,587, which is now mostly encroached.

Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Group

Sir Byramjee Jeejeebhoy, a 19th-century Parsi philanthropist, received seven villages totalling 12,000 acres from the East India Company in 1830. 

He also owned Bandra Land’s End, where the Taj Hotel now stands. 

Sir Mohammed Yusuf Khot Trust

Khot, an early 20th-century educationist and philanthropist and owner of the Bombay Steam Navigation Company, has most of the land leased to private firms like L&T in Powai.

Trust land in Bhandup and Kanjur has been fully taken by slum dwellers.

V K Lal 

In the late 19th century, the Agboatwala family owned 3,200 acres in Dahisar. However, about 800 acres were given to the local tillers by the government, 644 acres sold in a public auction after a family dispute, and 700–800 acres acquired for the national park. 

SRA estimates suggest that 70 to 100 acres held by V K Lal Properties in Kandivli have been encroached upon.

All of the nine mentioned entities own land in areas like Kurla, Bhandup, Vikhroli, Deonar, Malad, and Goregaon, which proves that there is no business like a land business.

Would you prefer to stay in Mumbai?

Written By Shivani Singh

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