BAG Films writes to Maharashtra government seeking to return land

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MB-Kirit-SomaiyaBAG Films Educational Society, of which Union Minister Rajiv Shukla was the secretary, has asked the Maharashtra government to take back the land allotted to it after a controversy erupted over securing prime plots worth crores of rupees for a pittance. “BAG Films last week wrote to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan reiterating their willingness to surrender the land and seeking to speed up the process. Accordingly, the CM has directed Additional Chief Secretary (revenue) to expedite the process,” a senior Mantralaya official said. Shukla, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, had recently said he had written to the Chief Minister last month that the land allotted to the society co-founded by him be taken back as no activity could be started because of encroachment. “Actually, the land which was allotted was fully encroached by slums and, despite all efforts over the last five years; it has still got several slum clusters. So the society is not able to take actual possession of the land to start any activity or construction,” he had said. The plots in Andheri, one reserved for a civic primary school and another for a playground, were given to the society in 2008 apparently at 1976 rates. According to reports, a plot measuring 2,821 sq m worth Rs. 100 crore reserved for school was allotted for a paltry Rs. 98,735, while another 3,534 sq m plot reserved for a playground was leased for 15 years for just Rs. 6,309, on the recommendation of the then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. Claiming that no irregularity had been committed as hundreds of educational societies were allotted land under the same provision, Shukla had told, “There is no question of any commercial value as the whole idea was to build a primary school there.” BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged that though Shukla did write to the Chief Minister his letter technically had no value as he had not completed necessary formalities for the revenue department to initiate the process of taking back the land.