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Mumbai land scams are under political patronage

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CIDCO land scams are rampant but so far, no concrete actions are taken against authorities because these scams are done under political patronage. When Devendra Fadnavis was Maharashtra’s chief minister there was the biggest ‘land scam’ in Navi Mumbai. CIDCO land, which was given to project-affected people for agricultural purposes, got denotified for development purposes by the revenue department. The formerly reserved 24 acres were allotted to eight farmers and was bought by private developers for peanuts. However, due to the denotification, the land’s rates went up, to the sole advantage of the developer. This episode hit the headlines and Congress in opposition raked up this matter but Devendra Fadnavis just cornered them in counter allegations but never answered to the accusations made against him.

City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) has registered a cheating case against 11 people, including a developer and five of its employees, for causing a loss of Rs 17 crores by illegally selling a plot originally used for building houses for CIDCO employees. A housing society acquired the plot at Nerul in 2002. Sneha Pushpa Housing society was formed in 1993 and was supposed to house only CIDCO employees. In 2002, the plot was given to the housing society on a 60-year rent agreement against a deposit of ₹73.79 lakh, as per the complaint of a CIDCO officer. The then chairman of the 30-member society inducted a developer, Haresh Nagji Chheda, as a member. Eventually, all members were replaced with non- CIDCO people. As per the CIDCO rules and regulations for the lease of land, only CIDCO employees can be members of the housing society.

Recently, the Navi Mumbai Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested a CIDCO officer and an agent for accepting a bribe of Rs 50,000. The accused have been identified as Sagar Madanlalji Tapdiya (47), an assistant estate officer from CIDCO, and private agent Ravindra Hukmichand Chajed (54). While Tapdiya is a resident of sector 16 in Kharghar, Chajed resides at Khanda Colony in Panvel. The complainant had approached CIDCO to transfer a property to his name. He met Chajed who said ₹50,000 will be needed for the procedure. Actions are being initiated and if you have more proof go to the appropriate authorities for action, please.

On several occasions, the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Limited (CIDCO) had staked its claim over the 24-acre plot of land at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has filed a chargesheet against 24 people, including a former chief of state planning agency CIDCO, in a land scam in the district which dates back to 1984. The charge sheet was filed by ACB in the court of Thane Additional Sessions Judge M C Khadke. The accused include officials of the Revenue Department, Co-operation Department, CIDCO and real estate developers, who according to the document, conspired to cause monetary losses to the exchequer. They were charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Because of government affiliation and influences, many publication houses have wrongfully acquired CIDCO lands.  The lands are allotted too many businesses at a very nominal rate.

Mumbai is not new to land scams and the politicians are guards of land sharks and mafias. Mumbai slums, CIDCO and MIDC are subjected to land scams and in each scam directly or indirectly there is political approval. Many politicians also have acquired benami properties and there is no action or accountability. Mumbai real estate scams have been rampant in the past ten years. Many builders in the Mira-Bhayander area were found to have used bogus paperwork to show that a particular plot of land in Bhayander was developed under a “green zone”.  If we go to Kalyan’s west side, all green zone properties are converted into chawls and row houses. Corrupt KDMC approves these projects in the greed of bribes. Builders have no fear as the administration is on their laps for money. Local netas have a stake in every construction project.

The Metro 3 car shed site at Aarey Colony was always a forest, contrary to what the government claims, said the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) on Friday, producing documents alleging a Rs 60,000-crore land scam. Until 2016, the colony was part of an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ), which was denotified to allow construction activity. Almost 250 acres more land than required for the Metro project were claimed at both Aarey and Kanjurmarg to benefit builders. The Kanjurmarg plot activists suggested that the Metro car shed is Maharashtra government-owned and not under litigation – contrary to what the state claims.

Till 2015, the forest department held that all of Aarey was required to be included in the ESZ of Sanjay Gandhi National Park. But in early 2016, it was the then chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who was in his CM’s war room, directing the department to denotify parts of Aarey for the Metro. Eventually, almost 408 acres of Aarey was denotified by the forest department for the Metro, in compliance with the CM’s war room directives. The war room minutes revealed that Fadnavis had directed that the areas for Metro depot be termed as ‘depot and allied activities, with ‘allied activities’ to mean commercial development, but this was not to be revealed till necessary later.

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Vaidehi Taman
Vaidehi Tamanhttps://authorvaidehi.com
Vaidehi Taman an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with three Honourary Doctorate in Journalism. Vaidehi has been an active journalist for the past 21 years, and is also the founding editor of an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, and The Democracy digital video news portal is her brain child. Vaidehi has three books in her name, "Sikhism vs Sickism", "Life Beyond Complications" and "Vedanti". She is an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, OSCP offensive securities, Certified Security Analyst and Licensed Penetration Tester that caters to her freelance jobs.
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