The Slum Rehabilitation Authority, has found a major link in the Worli Slum redevelopment project, in which ghost letters on BEST letter heads were used to substantiate eligibility of slum dwellers. An inquiry by SRA was ordered, based on which BEST sent them letters which includes few more names than what the SRA had asked for. This has forced the SRA to now check all the slum dwellers, in the particular project, who had provided electricity bill as a proof for eligibility.
The project near Worli Naka being redeveloped by Om Omega Shelters
High Court Advocate Manoj O Singh who represents Samala Narsaiyya Ramulu and Narsavva Konka, who live in a slum near Worli Naka, wanted to check with the SRA why and how certain names were included in a the redevelopment project when the list was revised. This particular SRA project concerns three slum pockets now merged into one, Shiv Ganesh and Shiv Sainath Cooperative Housing Societies near Worli Naka with 753 residents.
The SRA claimed that in 2013, they had received a letter from the Brihanmumbai Electrical Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), saying that many of those who had been included in the second list had electric supply to their homes and establishments dating before 1995. This letter had later turned out to be based on a alleged forged letterhead of BEST.
Singh had claimed that the number of dwellers eligible under Development Control Rule 33 (10), were falsely hiked in order to claim a larger building area. Following mid-day’s article, the SRA had sent letters to BEST asking them for a report, a copy available with mid-day. And to hike the number, forged letters with the BEST letter head were issued to show that many people had meters before 1995 the then cut-off date for slum dwellers to be eligible for a free home under the scheme.
In January BEST called SRA saying that they have prepared a report and wanted to dispatch it to the SRA. However, SRA officials fearing that, earlier they had received letters on BEST letter heads which had turned out to be forged, they sent their officer to collect it.
This letter opened another can of worms. Now, according to Satyanrayan Bajaj, Deputy Collector, SRA, who is overseeing the investigation in this case, said, “We had asked BEST a specific number of meters and their details, on whether they had issued letters to SRA substantiating it. BEST not only denied it, but also had listed few other meters number. We have decided to investigate every slum dweller in this project, who have showed electricity bill as a proof to establish that they are eligible for a free house under slum redevelopment.”
Bajaj further added, “We will now check everyone and also those who have fake or forged documents will be removed and declared illegal. Also we will initiate criminal proceeding, as per the law set. We are going to investigate and if required will take action against all those involved in the wrongdoing.”
Singh, said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg, if further and proper investigations are carried out, more will come out and many wrongdoing will be exposed. This whole forging of letter was done not by one person many were involved and all need to be punished.”