Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked Maharashtra government to respond to a PIL alleging a police housing scam in Panvel town of Navi Mumbai and a probe by the state CID into collection of Rs 84 crore from the constabulary of Mumbai police for this project.

The PIL, filed by Ketan Tirodkar, alleged that the state Home Department has collected Rs 1,20,000 each from over 7,000 constables in the last few years in the name of this housing project on a 100 acre plot in nearby Panvel.

The PIL also demanded that an FIR should be registered with the state CID, citing an offence of cheating against the persons in the corridors of power who took the decision.

The petition came up for hearing before a bench headed by Justice P V Hardas, which asked the state to file its response within four weeks.

The PIL alleged that 80 acres of the 100 acre land have been acquired from farmers. No construction has begun nor any information is being passed on to the constables who have paid the amount. A small office in Worli, Central Mumbai, has been set up for implementing this project. It has only two staff members, including an IAS officer.

The PIL said that intended beneficiaries, who inquire about the progress of this project, are asked a counter-question as to how they could afford to pay Rs 1,20,000 from their salaries. This raises doubt whether they would get the houses.

Many of these 7,000 constables, who have paid money, were on the verge of retirement. None of them has invested elsewhere in buying house, mainly on the strength of the assurance given by the state Home department that they would get a roof under this project, alleged the PIL.

Police housing is a pressing problem in Mumbai. The Home department has announced 1:4 Floor Space Index (FSI) for accommodating policemen to benefit the developer, the petitioner said. An affidavit filed by MD of Police Housing Corporation in two PILs, filed by Tirodkar, relating to the police housing, has revealed the list of plots of land taken away by bureaucrats and politicians in the state. Judicial intervention is therefore necessary in this case, the petitioner said.

The petitioner, quoting an RTI reply, said six plots of land in Worli Sagar Police Co-operative Housing Society at Mumbai, which were reserved for police housing, was allotted to Housing Societies of MLAs and police officers in 1988.

Later, the state assured that land admeasuring 48,560 square meters would be given in Andheri in lieu of this plot. However, no such land has been allotted yet, he said.