Amidst allegations of a ₹1,500 crore scam surrounding the 21-floor Wakad building project, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has directed the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) to halt its progress.
During a press conference, Pawar clarified that the state government made this decision after thorough verification with the chief secretary and several officials, including those from the Urban Development Department.
Consequently, PCMC is obliged to terminate the project, previously contracted with Vilas Javadekar Infinity Developers Ltd.
The proposed development involved constructing a 21-storey commercial building on 2.5 acres of designated land meant for the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd (PMPML) depot in Wakad. The civic body intended to lease the space above the depot and its office for commercial offices, expecting a monthly revenue of around ₹5 crore.
Shekhar Singh, PCMC Commissioner, compared the project to developments witnessed in cities like New York and San Francisco.
Let's decode what led to this decision:
The Wakad project surfaced prominently during the state assembly's winter session, as the opposition leader, Vijay Wadettiwar, alleged irregularities regarding the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) provided to Vilas Javadekar Infinity Developers Ltd. Wadettiwar claimed the deal aimed to offer a benefit of ₹681 crore to the private builder.
However, the PCMC Commissioner refuted the allegations, stating, "The proposal was approved, considering the municipal corporation's interests and following due legal procedures."
Subsequently, Maval MP Shrirang Barne wrote to the PCMC administration, highlighting several deficiencies in the project that needed rectification for its progression.
On the other hand, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders alleged a ₹1,500 crore scam over the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR). They claimed, “The prime piece of land valued at a huge amount is being handed over only for ₹200 crore. We suspect there is a ₹1,500 crore TDR scam in the whole deal. All three local MLAs and Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Singh are involved in this.”
Despite opposition, the civic administration staunchly denied any wrongdoing. The Municipal Commissioner emphasised, “We have already submitted a detailed note as to how the project is in the interest of the city and how the PCMC, without spending a rupee, will be getting ₹5 crore monthly revenue from the project."
Amidst this, Ajit Pawar had hinted at an investigation into the allegations of irregularities in the deal. And, on Saturday, he said, "After verifying the details with everyone I came to the conclusion that something is wrong with this deal. Hence, I decided to stop it."