Suraj Parmar (46), a prominent builder in Thane who ended his life on Wednesday, is said to have alleged in his suicide note that he had been facing “harassment” by various government departments and was tired of repeated demands for bribes.
A director with the Cosmos Group, Parmar shot himself with his licenced firearm on Wednesday afternoon inside a sample flat of an under-construction building.
The police said Parmar left behind a 13-page suicide note in which he outlined the problems he was facing due to government departments as well as the bribes that he had to pay repeatedly.
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“The suicide note speaks of several problems that Parmar was facing, including difficulties in obtaining approvals and the stop-work notices issued to him. The note goes on to say that several people were repeatedly demanding bribes, that he had already paid them a lot in the past but that their demands were still continuing and it had become too much for him to deal with. Parmar has written some names in the note but later struck them off himself. He also wrote that he was striking out the names as he was afraid his family would be harassed if he named them,” said Joint Commissioner of Police, Thane, V V Laxminarayan.
Builders across Mumbai and Thane said the case was just the tip of the iceberg as they had consistently faced harassment by government bodies such as municipal corporations and tax departments. They said more than the downturn or slowdown, it was this harassment that was pushing them to the wall.
Parmar’s death has prompted builders and developers from across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region to stage a demonstration in a show of support. The Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) will hold a protest in Thane Tuesday, which will be attended by builders and developers from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Parmar was heading the Thane chapter of the MCHI.
“Very clearly, there was no financial issue in this case. There is an issue in the way the system works. If you see all the listed companies, you will find that none of them have a margin of more than 10 per cent and I feel there is a systemic issue in the way real estate sector is taxed,” said Dharmesh Jain , managing director of Nirmal Lifestyle Ltd who is currently the president of the MCHI.
Vimal Shah, managing director of Hubtown Ltd, added, “The approval process has become unimaginably lengthy, tedious, unpredictable and depends on the whims of individual officers. Getting approvals has become a major problem for builders and has increased the interest cost not just of the builders but also of consumers.”
The sentiment was echoed by several other builders and developers, who did not want to be named, saying they were afraid of being “targeted by state agencies”.
Laxminarayan said that in the absence of clear names in the suicide note, further inquiries would be required to check for grounds for an abetment to suicide case.