Minister Jitendra Awhad
Minister Jitendra Awhad

In a latest development, state Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad has stalled the distribution of houses to masterlist beneficiaries by the Mumbai Building Repairs and Redevelopment Board (MBRRB), which is an undertaking of Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA).

A letter on the stay on the distribution of masterlist houses until further orders was issued to MBRRB CEO Arun Dongare on July 2. A copy of the letter is also with the Free Press Journal. However, the reason behind the stay has not been mentioned.

Masterlist houses are allocated only to project affected people (PAPs). These houses are reserved and cannot be offered in lottery schemes. Vinod Ghosalkar, Shiv Sena leader and chairman of MBRRB said, "I agree that there are issues with the distribution of masterlist houses, which I have repeatedly brought to notice. In some cases, action against the corrupt officers have already been initiated. MHADA is a dedicated government housing agency. Therefore, rights should be protected. If any fraud is reported, inquiry should be initiated. Action should be taken, but taking over the decision making power of the board is incorrect."

Reportedly, a controversy had erupted over the Housing Minister declaring and handing over MHADA lottery houses to TATA Hospital cancer patients. Shiv Sena legislator Ajay Chaudhary had written a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying that 700 families from the vicinity had objected to the disturbance created by outsiders arriving there on a temporary basis. This decision had created an atmosphere of fear amongst the residents. Chaudhary had demanded immediate postponement of the distribution of lottery houses.

Similarly, MBRRB had the power to take work orders amounting to Rs 20 crore. However, the state Housing Department issued a notification that any work order beyond Rs 1 crore would require permission from the department. However, this decision was later revoked after the matter was taken up to the CM's office. An insider claimed all such voluntary decisions have greatly upset political leaders from other parties.

Awhad and Dongare were unavailable for comment.

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Free Press Journal