Mumbai: PIL puts lens on MHADA, builder nexus

Mumbai: The Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) the supervisory agency responsible for cessed buildings in the entire island city, has failed to keep track of their properties states a Public Interest Litigation heard by the division bench by judges Naresh Patil and M W Sambre.

While hearing the petition, Justice Patil asked MHADA and secretary Housing, to frame a policy and set a process to track their properties. “MHADA should be more careful, you are handling hundreds of lakhs of square feet. You should draw a policy whereby you are aware of your properties and set systems in place to track them. It should not be that the building is constructed, sold and then the organisation learns it is their property,” Patil said.

The petitioner Kamlakar Shenoy claims once the cessed buildings are given for redevelopment to a private builder. Under Development Control Rules 33(7), the builder has to develop 50 percent of the Floor Space Index and hand over to MHADA. This is not been happening which caused “Wrongful loss to MHADA property of 30 lakh square feet saleable under 33970 valued approximately at Rs 1400 crores due to wilful and deliberate inaction by MHADA.” Shenoy has further stated that these developed places are to be used as transit camps for Project Affected People (PAP) and it is not being done.

Shenoy had written complaint to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) asking them to file a First Information report (FIR) against MHADA officials “Shri Bhange and Shri Zende for conniving with developers and wilfully causing wrongful loss to the MHADA and government of Maharashtra.” The Deputy Commissioner of Police, EOW states, “The general scrutiny of the said complaint primarily suggested violation of provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act,” and it was forwarded to the Director General of Anti-Corruption Bureau.

On the basis of the complaints received, EOW Mumbai had filed 29 FIRs against developers who had wilfully refrained from handing over part of the property to MHADA as required under DC Rules 33(7). “Final reports have been filed in 26 cases, Supreme Court has granted stay on investigation in two cases and in one case accused developer has entered into fresh agreement and has paid the required fine amount to MHADA,” affidavit states.

The ACB returned Shenoy’s case to EOW as any action on their part ‘would amount to double jeopardy.’ Further more the EOW decided to reconsider the complaints by the petitioner calling them as “vague, highly exaggerated and general in nature.” The petition has been admitted and next hearing is fixed for December 20.

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