The Maharashtra government has refused to intervene in an ongoing inquiry into the proposals cleared by former Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) Chief Vishwas Patil in the last month before his retirement. Patil, a 1996-batch IAS officer who retired on June 30 this year, is facing a barrage of accusations over the SRA scheme proposals approved by him just before he remitted office. Acting on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’s directives, his successor, Deepak Kapoor, had appointed a four-member internal committee of SRA officials to probe the validity of these approvals.
While stating that 104 out of the 137 proposals cleared by Patil’s office in his last month of service were in order, the committee’s preliminary investigation has raised questions over approvals granted in the remaining 33 cases, while recommending a detailed probe to check for irregularities in these.
Following this, Kapoor’s office had approached the state’s housing department on September 22 for permission to conduct in-depth inquiry into these matters.
However, steering clear of issuing any such directives, the housing department on Thursday replied contending that it was for the SRA to decide the further course of investigation. “Since the SRA has ordered an internal probe, the onus is on them to decide how to conduct it. The government can play a role in the event the inquiry confirms that there have been irregularities and mentions those responsible for it,” said a government source.
Incidentally while Patil had cleared the 33 controversial proposals, sources said that final orders for these approvals had not been issued. In other words, none of these were implemented.
The discrepancies reported by the inquiry panel include – grant of higher construction rights than permissible to some slum developers, irregular amalgamation or clubbing of building proposals, enlargement of a slum redevelopment scheme without following the due process, and lapses in issuance of the conditional Letter of Intent for some new slum redevelopment proposals, among others.
Between April 1, 2017 and June 30, 2017, Patil had issued Letter of Intent (LoI) to 12 new slum redevelopment proposals. His office had also approved 24 other cases where conditional LOIs were issued, but the issuance of final orders was still pending. He had also cleared proposals for revision of the permission (LOI) granted to 65 other proposals, while approving 42 proposals for issuance of occupancy certificates, and issuance of acceptance letters to six other proposals.
At least six of the proposals, which are now under the scanner, pertain to the controversial section 33(14) of the Development Control Regulation, where the SRA permits additional building rights to landowners for construction of transit tenements on their plot.