Wadala Truck Terminus: MMRDA dangles high-rise carrot to take back plots
Adding to the spate of controversies surrounding the alleged irregularities observed while allotting office spaces and godowns at Wadala Truck Terminal (WTT) by the Bombay Goods Transport Association (BGTA) is the proposed signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the association and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).
Through this pact, the MMRDA is promising BGTA members a high-rise at Wadala Truck Terminus (WTT) and allotment of spaces double the existing areas to the members provided they handover their plots. However, most of the BGTA members claimed that the MoU cannot be signed due to an ongoing inquiry into alleged fraud observed during the plot allocation in the past. A few of the members even alleged that MMRDA wants to cash in on the skyrocketing property rates in the area by leasing out or selling out the plot it owns.
Wadala Truck Terminus. File pic
“Irregularities were observed during the allotment of tenements in the past. While several non-members were allotted plots, a few of the existing members got more than one plot, which is illegal. We have complained about the same to the MMRDA, the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) and even the CM’s office. An inquiry is already underway, for which MMRDA even appointed an officer. How can it even think of signing an MoU in such a scenario?” said BD Goel, BGTA member.
MoU draft ready?
Another BGTA members, requesting anonymity, claimed that the MMRDA has already prepared a rough draft of MoU to be signed between the two parties.
One of the points (sent to mid-day by the member) mentioned in the draft reads: “Point number (a) from the rough draft that has been prepared states that BGTA has agreed to surrender their right title interest in the demarcated pitches, in the plots (including their rights to built-up area) and hand over vacant and peaceful possession of the plots to MMRDA in consideration of MMRDA agreeing to provide BGTA constructed premises on a single plot, twice the built-up area (for example if existing built-up area is 500 sq ft then MMRDA will give 1,000 square feet built-up area) motioned in the allotment letter and license agreement.”
While MMRDA Commissioner UPS Madan remained unavailable, Joint Project Director Dilip Kawathkar refused to comment citing the ongoing investigation.
Blast from the past
In July 2015, mid-day had reported (Wadala Truck Terminal: Allocation of office space at terminal laced with fraud) that a few of the BGTA members owned more than one office space across WTT. The MMRDA later wrote to BGTA in December seeking an explanation for allotment of plots at 12 locations at the truck terminus. The letter was written after BD Goel and a few other members complained to the MMRDA about the alleged irregularities observed during allocation of these spaces.
A month before, ACB wrote to the MMRDA requesting details of the allotments done to BGTA members. In its reply, the MMRDA informed the ACB in October that is has assigned an officer to investigate the matter.
Did you know?
MMRDA is the special planning authority for Wadala and has 109 hectares of land under its jurisdiction, of which about 28 hectares are saltpans. Of the available 81 hectare, MMRDA has given almost half to the BGTA-Mahasang for WTT, leased out certain hectares to Lodha Group for construction of residential township and the rest has been used for Monorail car depot.