MORE THAN 20 to 25 real estate projects in Thane region may have got around a mandatory clause, which require them to hand over to the state government a portion of land being developed, by using forged documents.
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The Thane police unearthed the scam after a builder in the Mira-Bhayander area was found to have used bogus paperwork to show that a particular plot of land in Bhayander being developed by him was under a “green zone” and not a “residential zone”.
The builder reportedly used forged paperwork to get an exemption from parting with land as mandated by provisions of the Urban Land Ceiling (Regulation) Act (ULCRA). Police believe there may be 20-25 such plots in Thane where similar violations could be found.
The police pegged that losses to the exchequer for one plot discovered until now are over Rs 10 crore. The scam had come to light after real estate agent Milan Gandhi (36) approached the Thane police to register a complaint against builder Shyamsunder Agarwal, his brother Murlidhar and architect Anil Motiramani.
Gandhi told the police that at a plot being developed by Agarwals — owners of Swan builders — in the Mira-Bhayander area, the portion of land to be given to the government against the provisions of ULCRA was not handed over.
Gandhi alleged that they had managed to evade the requirement by allegedly using bogus documents.
Based on the complaint, the police registered an FIR at the Thane Nagar police station against Shyamsunder, Murlidhar, Motiramani and employees of the government departments concerned that allegedly helped the builders get the exemption. Shyamsunder was eventually arrested by the police.
“As per the ULC Act, builders were to hand over 5 per cent of the land they were developing to the government. This land could then be used by the government to either create housing for low-income groups or other purposes,” said DCP Parag Manere.
Another officer said that, “The complainant is suspected to have managed to secure an exemption certificate under section 20 of the ULCA with the help of forged documents. We are also checking if officials at the Thane collectorate office, who should have ideally flagged off documents seeking exemption as forged, were in cahoots with the accused.”
A senior officer said, “Currently, there is a team of nearly 50 officers who are going through paperwork that we have got from Mira-Bhayander Municipal Corporation and the Thane collector’s office. After going through the records, we will be able to ascertain how many more plots cheated the government using forged paperwork.”