Hours after The Indian Express reported on an alleged nexus of politicians and officials stalling real estate projects to extort money in Thane, the fast-growing satellite town’s municipal commissioner directed officials under his charge to ignore “pressure tactics” from corporators while dealing with the construction sector.
Sanjay Jaiswal’s directions followed instructions from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who said he had issued orders for a crackdown on the “cartel”.
Additional municipal commissioner Sunil Chavan said Jaiswal issued “strict instructions” to officials. “If someone puts undue pressure, officials have been told to directly report the matter to the commissioner,” he said.
Builders and politicians cutting across party lines had complained about a “coterie” called the “Golden Gang”, which raised “issues” about projects on the floor of the Thane Municipal Corporation (Thane) to put pressure on builders for “pay-offs”.
On Friday, when a corporator stood up to discuss a “complaint” related to an ongoing residential project, he was told that this was not the “right forum” to raise the issue.
Chavan said the civic administration had also decided to prevent harassment and remove red-tape in the building approval process. “We have now adopted a zero-pendency policy. Town planning officials have been asked to clear files without any delay. Sitting on files won’t be tolerated at all,” Chavan said.
The “Golden Gang” came under scrutiny after 46-year-old Suraj Parmar, a builder, reportedly shot himself dead on October 7, leaving behind a note complaining of harassment related to his projects in Thane. Parmar had earlier written a letter to Fadnavis on the same issue.
The builder’s complaints were echoed by a BJP MLA, a Congress corporator and a numb er of other real estate developers.