Scam-tainted housing society fined Rs 35 lakh
The 60-year-old Vijay Co-operative Housing Society Ltd the city’s largest has ostensibly gone the Adarsh way. The registrar of societies, Pune has slapped a penalty of Rs 35 lakh on the Mulund-based association after finding certain irregularities and illegalities in the accounts and workings of the managing committee. The members had allegedly forged bills and shown bloated expenses in the society’s name. The managing committee supposedly purchased vast quantities of dry fruits, erasers and pencils to justify the spending.
The society sits on 82 plots (a total of 15 lakh sq ft) and comprises 1,500 families. It has its own hospital, temple, school and garden. The flat owners include a former BJP councillor, a sitting BJP ward president, a few lawyers, and the owner of a paint company. Following a complaint by society member Damji Momaya, registrar of societies in Pune appointed a special auditor for the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. A number of abnormalities were unearthed in the accounts, and serious irregularities in the workings of the managing committee came to the fore.
“Lots of distortions and transgressions were discovered that had been carried out in the name of repair, maintenance and office renovation. We caught committee members red-handed. We will approach higher authorities,” said Momaya. Another society member said on condition of anonymity, “The scam is in crores. We are planning to file an FIR soon.” According to audit reports (copy with MiD DAY) the managing committee purportedly purchased vast quantities of cashews, erasers and pencils to validate the outflow. Once committee members bought dry fruits and distributed them among 11 associates, but paid the bills at the society’s expense.
The society hall was never painted, but the members submitted invoices claiming otherwise and named the resident of the society, who owns a paint company, as having carried out the job. Surprisingly, at one time, the complex’s cleaning contract was given to a Chandigarh-based company. At another time, the society allegedly purchased substantial quantities of plywood, but records show the consignment was never delivered.
“I was a committee member, but was never called to meetings. I was always kept in the dark. The registrars of societies have penalised our association. Further action in the matter is in process,” said Deepak Shah, BJP ward president. On October 31, 2012, one of the committee members, Dinesh Chheda, tendered an affidavit (copy with MiD DAY) to the registrar of societies, stating that he had noticed that the quantity of materials purchased for myriad purposes was usually far more than required, of substandard quality, and priced higher than prevailing market rates. When contacted Sudhir Gandhi, secretary of the society, refused to comment on the issue.