Congress alleges Chief Minister's hand in land deal with private builder

Jul 03, 2018, 10:05 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Congress leaders demand judicial probe into alleged allotment of prime CIDCO land to builder for a pittance

Congress alleges Chief Minister's hand in land deal with private builder
Sanjay Nirupam and Randeep Singh Surjewala (right)

The Congress has alleged a nexus between the Maharashtra chief minister and a private developer in allotting valuable CIDCO land, claiming the deal caused a loss of Rs 1,767 crore to the state exchequer.

Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam and the party's national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surejwala made these serious allegations at a press conference in Mumbai on Monday.

Nirupam said a plot measuring 24 acres in Navi Mumbai was transferred for a pittance to a private realtor, Paradise Builders. "Incidentally, the minister in charge of urban development is none other than Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself. And, we insist that a BJP legislator Prasad Lad, who is close to the developers and is perhaps one of the partners at the firm as well, has played a crucial role in this allotment," said Nirupam. Surjewala and other Congress leaders demanded a judicial probe in the alleged scam.

According to Congress leaders, the use of the land cannot be changed as per Navi Mumbai-related development laws. However, in 2017, Paradise Builders belonging to Manish Bhatija, wanted land in Navi Mumbai close to the upcoming airport. A modus operandi was adopted to identify gullible farmers affected in the Koyna Dam project for the purpose of getting CIDCO land allotted and simultaneously getting it transferred to the private developer, said Nirupam.

He said, on February 26, the Collector of Raigad, without any authority to allot lands in the notified area of CIDCO, allotted 24 acres of land in Survey No- 183/0, village Ranjanpada, Khargar, Navi Mumbai to eight ousted Koyna Dam farmers, with whom Paradise Builders had already entered into an agreement to transfer the land at a pittance of Rs 15 lakh per acre.

"CIDCO and the Urban Development Department raised no objection to allocation of notified area land to the farmers and, in fact, recommended that the land be de-notified from the purview of CIDCO. Incidentally, this land was reserved in the developmental plan of Navi Mumbai for Central Park, Phase II," he said.

In a dramatic turn of events in May, the land was handed over to the developer. "The farmers got a pittance for the land, but it was sold by CIDCO at the rate of Rs 1.84 crore per sqm," said Nirupam. "Does Paradise Builders have the special blessings of Fadnavis enabling them to secure a sweetheart deal for 24 acres in Navi Mumbai for a pittance of Rs 3.6 crore, while the price of land, based upon CIDCO land sold in proximity, would be approximately Rs 1,767 crore?" asked Nirupam.

BJP, Prasad Lad say they will sue for defamation
BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari denied all allegations and said the land in question wasn't owned by CIDCO, but the government-owned piece was allocated to project-affected people, who in turn sold it to the developers, even during the Congress regime.

"The Congress has hit such a low that it is manufacturing controversies to frame the CM. They should know that the files of such matters do not go to the CMO. They are desperate to establish that land that actually costs R5 crore should have been sold for Rss 1,700 crore," said Bhandari. He said such matters are decided at the Collector's office alone. "We know of 200 similar sale deeds done during the Congress regime. In 2009, Tatuji Kadam sold his Taloja land to Queen Developers; in 2013, Mayur Kadam sold his land to Agrawal Builders and in 2014, Jagannath Kadam sold his land to Rabbani Khan Builders. Even during Prithviraj Chavan's tenure as CM, Dattatreya Kadam sold his land to Quality Naman Builders.

BJP legislator Prasad Lad, whom the Congress accused of being a beneficiary of the scam, said he would sue Congress leaders for Rs 500 crore. The BJP said it would file a similar defamation suit.

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