Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Uncovered: Adarsh-like scam in Bandra Bureaucrats, netas own flats in Bandra building built on plot meant for students’ hostel

Uncovered: Adarsh-like scam in Bandra
Bureaucrats, netas own flats in Bandra building built on plot meant for students’ hostel

A housing society in which top politicians and bureaucrats own flats has come up on a Bandra plot which was reserved to construct a hostel for students from backward classes. And like the controversial Adarsh society in Colaba, Bandra’s Sai Prasad cooperative housing society also violates coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rules, a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed.
Congress leader Kripashankar Singh, his brother-in-law Surendra Pratap Uma Shankar Singh, former BMC commissioner Jairaj Phatak, joint commissioner of police Himanshu Roy, several IAS and IPS officers, Ram Shankar Pandey who says he sells vegetables in the APMC market in Navi Mumbai and a school peon from Dhule with an annual income of Rs55,000 own houses in the 10-storey building with 1,500sqft flats.
Phatak was on Tuesday arrested in connection with the Adarsh scam while Roy’s mother owns a flat in another controversial building — Harsiddhi in Worli. Kripashankar was guardian minister when Sai Prasad was being constructed and vendor Pandey hails from the politician’s village.
Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam was denied a flat in the Bandra society constructed on a 1,403sqmt prime plot. On the lines of Adarsh, Sai Prasad has been constructed by breaking and flouting all norms with the sole motive of making a huge profit, claims RTI activist Anil Galgali, who got details about the controversial society under the RTI Act.

Top IAS and IPS officers and several prominent politicians made an application to the state government to construct a building on the Bandra plot in 2000. In 2003, then chief minister (CM) Vilasrao Deshmukh, on behalf of the state government, sanctioned the plot for the ‘homeless’ bureaucrats and politicians at a standard 20% of the ready reckoner rate, which is less than the market price. The state sold the plot to the bureaucrats for a paltry Rs57 lakh compared to its market value of Rs8 crore.
Ironically, most of the flats were leased out on rent after the building was constructed. The state government also overlooked the fact that the plot came under CRZ rules under which construction is not allowed.
The names of those involved in the project are also the same as those under suspicion in connection with the Adarsh scam. Jairaj Phatak had a hand in clearing files for Adarsh. His son also owns a flat in the controversial society in Colaba. Former secretary to the CM CS Sangitrao’s daughter Rucha and brother own flats in Sai Prasad. Sangitrao’s son has a flat in Adarsh. Incidentally, Sangitrao was collector in Mumbai and Milind Shambharkar , who also owns a flat in the building, was deputy residential collector when Sai Prasad was coming up.
Former BEST general manager Swadhin Kshatriya, who played a part in sanctioning the Adarsh project, also has a flat in Sai Prasad. While Kshatriya does not own a flat in Adarsh, he was not eligible to have a house in Sai Prasad by virtue of having a plush apartment in Oshiwara. Among other bureaucrats who own flats in Sai Prasd are Kishore Gajbhiye, former additional commissioner, BMC, and IPS officer Bipin Kumar Singh who was then DCP, Mumbai.
The prospect of benami properties also looms large in Sai Prasad, as Abhimanyu Daga Bhosle, who works as a peon in RR Padvi Nutan high school and junior college in Dhule, also has a house. His annual income is just Rs55,000.
Jairaj Phatak will have a lot of explaining to do as he had claimed in his application that he does not own a flat anywhere in Mumbai. However, within a week of taking possession of his flat in Sai Prasad on June 29, 2008, he wrote a letter to the Mumbai collector, informing him of his wish to give his house on leave and licence to a firm.
Other bureaucrats, such as former additional collector HK Jawale, Dr Avinask Dhakne who was personal secretary in the CM’s office, Ajit Kumar Jain who is personal secretary to the CM, and joint commissioner of central excise department Hemant Kothikar, are the other beneficiaries of Sai Prasad cooperative housing society.

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