How high-profile squatters bleed Maharashtra coffers dry

Mar 30, 2016, 07:07 IST | Dharmendra Jore

Overstaying bureaucrats — transferred and retired — collectively owe government Rs 65 lakh in penal rent

Former IPS officer PK Jain, who continues to occupy a plush government-provided accommodation at Churchgate despite retiring two years ago, wonders why the state is dead set on recovering penal rent of Rs 9.81 lakh from him.

Sagar (Churchgate)
Name: Pankaj Shah (Sagar-3)
Designation: Retd judge
Pending dues: Rs 3,22,665
Name: Anil Sontakke
Designation: Labour court judge
Pending dues: Rs 1,11,808
Name: Prakash Kumar Rahule
Designation: Retd judge
Pending dues: Rs 2,43,740. Pics/Atul Kamble and Suresh KK

Though Jain was asked to vacate the flat after his retirement, he wants to continue residing in the same accommodation stating that he is now a member of the State Police Complaint Authority. His case is pending before the government.

Tushar (Churchgate)
Name: Prakash Rathod
Designation: Retd judge
Pending dues: Rs 10,59,689
Name: Avinash Zaade
Designation: Bureaucrat
Pending dues: Rs 4,22,160

“I don’t know why the government is doing this to me. Several senior bureaucrats were allowed to overstay in their respective service quarters, and even got their penal rent waived off. I’m also asking for the same,” Jain told mid-day yesterday, after he was told that rely to an RTI query places him among the biggest defaulters.

Yashodhan (Churchgate)
Name: PK Jain
Designation: Retired IPS officer
Pending dues: Rs 9,81,036

The query was filed five months ago by Anil Galgali in November 2015, to which he received a reply on March 8. Commenting on the issue, Galgali said, “Dues should be recovered in the form of deductions from salaries of serving officers and pension of those who are retired.”

'Let the govt tell me'
Jain maintained that he would pay the penal rent if the government tells him to. However, he wants the government to allot him a service quarter (the same or another flat) in Yashodhan building near Cricket Club of India. “One of my colleagues in the authority has been given an accommodation. Why not me?” he added.

Haji Ali govt quarters
Name: Kamlakar Fund
Designation: Dy Collector, Thane
Pending dues: Rs 18,47,109
Name: Dhanaji Toraskar
Designation: Officer on Special Duty (OSD)
Pending dues: Rs 5,05,687

Jain also claimed that several IAS officers, who took new assignments after retirement, were granted special favours. “These officers did not pay any penal rent, but were allowed to stay in the accommodation they held during their tenures,” he said.

Jain retired as the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) in February 2014 and has overstayed since. Last year, he was asked to vacate the flat within seven days and clear outstanding dues at the rate of R50 per sq ft of the carpet area (of the flat).

Last May, Jain was appointed as a member of Police Complaint Authority. Following his appointment, Jain requested the government to allot him the same accommodation in Yashodhan building where top bureaucrats and police officers reside. However, the government turned down his request.

Jain look-alikes
Like Jain, numerous former and serving officers have overstayed in their service quarters after retirement or transfer to another city. The RTI query revealed that several top-ranking bureaucrats have defaulted in paying the penal rent, charged after the occupant fails to vacate the allotted accommodation on time.

Thane Collector Dr Ashvini Joshi, senior bureaucrat Kamlakar Fund, Anil Sontakke, Prakash Rathod and a few retired judicial officers are among the top defaulters. A sweeper and a carpenter also feature in this list. They collective owe the government Rs 65 lakh.

When contacted, Joshi refused to comment. Like Jain, even her case is pending before the government. It has been learnt that she has told the government that Public Works Department (PWD) had charged her rent from the day she was transferred to Thane, despite being provided the official residence two months after joining. However, the RTI revealed that Joshi continues to occupy a flat in Kedar building at Churchgate. Despite repeated attempts other occupants remained unavailable for comment.

PWD moves court
PWD claimed it approached the civil court to recover pending dues after the officers ignored the follow-ups and reminders pertaining clearance of penal rent. When contacted, PWD officers refused to comment saying they were not authorised to speak to media in this matter.

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