The Anil Ambani group-run Mumbai Metro is yet to pay Rs 28.55 crore rent to the regional planning body MMRDA for the land at the northwestern suburb of Versova where the metro operator had put up the casting yard, reveals an RTI answer from the authority.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in a response to an RTI query filed by activist Anil Galgali said, "Mumbai Metro One Pvt Ltd (MMOPL) was handed over the Home Guard land measuring 2.4 hectare at Versova for a casting yard in January 2009 for a period of 15 months."
The MMRDA said the company originally owed Rs 30.63 crore in rentals, out of which it cleared only Rs 3.97 crore to MMRDA on July 29, 2015. But with interest and delayed fees, the total outstanding is Rs 28.55 crore, shows the RTI answer.
For using the Home Guard land, MMOPL, run by Anil Ambani's Reliance Infrastructure, had agreed to pay rent to
MMRDA. But it failed to do so, but continued to occupy the land for 55 months.
"Since metro construction jumped several deadlines, MMOPL sought four extensions from MMRDA to use the land. In its bid to continue to use the land, it even promised to build a training centre for the Home Guards which was never fulfilled," the MMRDA said in its RTI reply.
The RTI answer further said following a meeting with an additional chief secretary in October 2011, MMOPL was asked to start constructing the training centre for the Home Guards within two months, failing which it was asked to pay the full rent of the land right from the date of allotment with interest.
Galgali said the company did not event meet this deadline or build the training centre or pay the rentals. Finally, MMOPL handed over land to MMRDA in August 2013 after using it for over 55 months.
"After several rounds of correspondence, MMOPL made the first and only rent payment of Rs 3.97 crore to MMRDA on July 29, 2015. MMOPL is yet to pay Rs 28.55 crore to MMRDA," said RTI reply.
The MMRDA arrived at the rental outstanding at Rs 3.60/day/sqmt with an annual increment of 10 per cent.
Terming this as "unholy nexus" between MMRDA official and MMOPL executives, Galgali said he has written a letter to chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and MMRDA Commissioner UPS Madan to register an FIR against MMOPL and recover the money and then build the training centre building."
What does the MMOPL have to say?
When contacted, MMOPL denied owing money to the MMRDA as the authority has already deducted the money to the tune of Rs 38.30 crore from the viability gap funding grants.
"The RTI query portrays only half the picture. The Home Guard land was provided to MMOPL during construction of the alignment. However, MMRDA was not able to provide unencumbered right of way as per the concession agreement citing various reasons. It in fact took more than six years and six months to give us the right of way.
"Because of unfulfilled promises of MMRDA, we were forced to extend usage of the Home Guard land as the project was to be completed," MMOPL said in a statement.
The company went onto claim that "MMRDA has already deducted Rs 38.30 crore from the viability gap funding which was due to us and is under dispute now."
Repeated attempts to contact the MMRDA Commissioner did not fructify.