Mumbai: BMC pays Rs 349 crore for encroached land it had valued at Rs 54 crore in 2011

Updated: 23 October, 2020 07:29 IST | Sanjeev Shivadekar | Mumbai

Worse, it will now have to bear the cost of clearing over 1,600 slum-dwellers from the Dahisar plot, the very reason why former municipal chief Praveen Pardeshi had vetoed the deal in 2019

The plot is spread across 22,000 square metres in Eksar village, Dahisar
The plot is spread across 22,000 square metres in Eksar village, Dahisar

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has acquired a completely encroached land in Dahisar for over Rs 349 crore from a private player. In 2019, the then civic chief Praveen Pardeshi had rejected the acquisition on the grounds that only an encroachment-free plot may be acquired. However, a few months after his rejection, the administration went ahead with the acquisition.

The plot has nearly 1,600 slum dwellings on it. Its price had been pegged at Rs 54 crore by the BMC itself in 2011 when it wanted to acquire it. However, the proposal was then shot down by the Improvements Committee.

The plot, located at Eksar village, measures around 22,000 sqm and has a reservation for a maternity home and a playground. Currently, it has over 1,600 slums-dwellings. The BMC will now have to provide shelter to the slum-dwellers if it aims to utilise the plot as mentioned in the reservation.

Former BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi
Former BMC chief Praveen Pardeshi

"Total cost of acquisition is over R349 crore," an official said. The cost is also reflected in an administrative document, wherein the private seller has been named as Nishalp Realties LLP.

'Probe the deal'

Raish Shaikh, Samajwadi Party MLA from Bhiwandi, red-flagged the deal. Also a corporator from Madanpura, Shaikh claimed that the deal has been selectively executed. "Prima facie, the deal looks fishy and the possibility of a huge scam cannot be ruled out," Shaikh said. He added that an in-house enquiry by the BMC would yield no results and that the CID should be asked to probe.

The plot has a playground and a reservation for a maternity home and a playground; (right) mid-day’s Oct 8 report about BMC’s proposed land deal in Mulund
The plot has a playground and a reservation for a maternity home and a playground; (right) mid-day's Oct 8 report about BMC's proposed land deal in Mulund

Activist Niraj Gunde objected to the way Sena and the civic administration are spending revenue. "Ideally, plans and proposals should be aimed to benefit Mumbaikars. But recent developments suggest that decisions are taken keeping the interest of a handful of politicians, bureaucrats and developers in mind," Gunde said.

Gunde demanded that the corporation come up with a white paper exhibiting the status on reservation plots. "Mumbai citizens have every right to know about the status of plots reserved in the city — whether these plots are utilised for the purpose earmarked by the BMC or encroached by slum-dwellers," Gunde added.

Previous land deals

This is not the first time that the Shiv Sena-ruled BMC is at the receiving end regarding land acquisition. An earlier proposal to acquire a plot from a private person in Mulund to set up a 5,000-bed hospital for over Rs 1,800 crore faced flak from officers within the corporation and the political fraternity. This was because the procurement was proposed under the acquisition act so that the seller doesn't have to pay capital gains to the income tax department from the profit made. BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal did not respond to calls and messages.

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First Published: 23 October, 2020 07:25 IST

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