Almost a month after The Indian Express reported how 2000 sq ft of prime defence land had been sub-let to a private cooperative society by the Department of Sainik Welfare (DSW),it is learnt that the society,Mahasainik City,will now be moved to a private location.
DSW Director Colonel (retd) Suhas Jatkar,who is also the director of this private society,said the Mahasainik City office will be moved out from its current location on the DSW premises,where it has been paying a miniscule rent of Rs 500 per month for 2000 sq ft without any authorization from the Defence Estates Office (DEO). Jatkar said,The new office has been taken on rent and the interiors are being done. We (Mahasainik City) should be moving to the new office within 15 days.
As reported by this paper on May 21,the information had surfaced in an RTI reply to queries raised by Commander (retd) Ravindra Pathak. The reply revealed that the premise was leased out at just Rs 25 paisa per sq ft since 2010.
The subleasing is illegal given that DSW is itself a tenant on this land,categorized as B-3 defence land,located at Ghorpadi opposite National War Memorial.
Jatkar had then justified the formation of Mahasainik City and housing it on DSW premises by comparing the circumstances with the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO). Even AWHO offices are located within Army premises, Jatkar had said. However,it may be noted that AWHO constructs affordable housing projects for Army personnel and functions under AGs branch of the Army. The case is not so with Mahasainik City since it is a private undertaking with no involvement in constructing houses. In fact the role of Mahasainik City today stands reduced to that of a middleman through which flats are offered to ESM at concessional rates in the upscale Amanora Park and Sai Shanti in Loni Kalbhor. For providing this service,Mahasainik City has been charging Rs 48.5 per sq ft to ex servicemen as administrative charges. Around 300 ex-servicemen have availed of the facility till date,while 30-odd ones are in the waiting list.
Commander (retd) Ravindra Pathak who has been voicing his protest regarding various issues pertaining to DSW with the Chief Ministers office said,It is a good decision to shift Mahasainik City out of the defence land. But the decision does not in any way undo the illegal acts that the office-holders and DSW have been carrying on since 2010. What needs to be explained is what happens to the vacated building since the construction is itself illegal and the director of DSW has never given any explanation regarding who has constructed the building and for what purpose.
Pathak also alleged that the fact that Mahasainik City,a private society operated from defence land and earned profits from the premises points towards a loss to the exchequer that needs to be reimbursed.