125 acres of land, 26,000 slum dwellings, and one builder — the main players of the controversial Golibar slum rehabilitation project in a nutshell. All this has come under the scanner of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). In its latest report recently tabled before the state legislature, CAG states that there’s no evidence of no objection certificates (NOCs) from landowners in favour of the project.
Of the total area involved, 52 acres is private land, of which, CAG says, the builder — Shivalik Ventures — has possession of 22 acres, but no NOC is available on record. 43 acres belong to the defence ministry, two acres are owned by the central excise department, two acres by the state government, and the remaining 26 acres belong to MHADA.
According to the report, the developer was awarded the project without any transparent bidding, as envisaged in the housing policy. The report adds, “Government also did not formulate any guidelines for selection of developer as well as implementation of the project.” The report also states, “In this project, 43 acres of land belonged to the defence ministry and two acres were owned by the central excise department. No Objection Certificates from these two ministries were required to be obtained before approval of the project. This was not done.”
True cost of ‘free’
Last year, activist Medha Patkar sat on a hunger strike for nine days to stop the project and broke her fast only after assurances from the CM. Simpreet Singh, coordinator of Ghar Banao Ghar Bachao Andolan, said, “This stinks of connivance between the then CM and the developer, as the CM had handed over nearly 125 acres to the builder without following a transparent bidding process. We have taken the matter to court and will fight for justice.”
The other side
Kiran Jadhav, COO, Shivalik Builders, said, “We have the project currently only on 28 acres of land to be very specific. Our project is on 1.12 lakh square metres involving 46 societies and we have 92 per cent consent from the slum dwellers, with 5,079 of them being eligible. We aspire for 125 acres of land development. However, we haven’t yet got permission over there. Our focus is to develop all the vicinity where our project is coming up and we have already developed 10 rehabilitation buildings for slum dwellers. Only after that will we construct the saleable component. We will construct municipal market, hospital, library and schools in the area. There are people who are purposely spreading canards to spoil our project in spite of us being true and honest with it. We reiterate, the project land sanctioned is only 28 acres right now and not 125 acres.” Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan was unavailable for comment. A call to his mobile was diverted and the person who answered said, “The CM is in an area where his phone isn’t reachable.”