THE ECONOMIC Offences Wing (EOW) has begun a preliminary enquiry to probe if a plot belonging to the city police in south Mumbai has been illegally acquired by a prominent builder. The probe comes after the former director of the Maharashtra State Housing Corporation (MSHC), Arup Patnaik, wrote to the police on a Slum Rehabilitation Scheme Project developed by S D Corporation Pvt Ltd in Tardeo, where the landmark Imperial Towers now stands.
The EOW has written to Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) and Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), seeking details on the project.
The case pertains to 42,600 sq metres of land belonging to the Mumbai Police in Tardeo, which had been encroached upon. Following a revenue department order in favour of redeveloping the encroached land, the slum rehabilitation project was launched to rehabilitate slum dwellers on 33,100 sq metres, with the balance area of 9,500 sq metres for the Mumbai Police. In 2005, the SRA proposed to provide the Mumbai Police a built-up area measuring 3,025.75 sq metres, instead of an open plot, now referred to as a 9,100-sq metre open plot.
“We have asked them to share all the correspondence in connection with the project. While we have got some papers, many of them are missing, and therefore we have written to them on specific papers pertaining to transfer of land,” a senior official from the department told The Indian Express. “The enquiry is in the nascent stage and we will soon write to the builder and developer to seek their version,” said the official. “Our probe will centre around how 9500 sq metres of land became 9,100 sq metres.”
SD Corporation confirmed the ongoing probe by the EOW. “We are aware of the probe. However, in view of the recent decision of the Government in the housing department, the issue relating to police housing has been settled and the Government has directed to provide a built-up area to the police department in lieu of the reservation. The decision has been taken in a meeting attended by the police officer in charge of police housing,” the company’s spokesperson said.
The Indian Express had reported on January 25 on MSHC taking up the matter with the Mumbai Police.
In a letter, a copy of which is with this paper, the MSHC wrote: “It appears that the developers M/s SD Corporation Pvt Ltd are in physical possession of land over and above 42,600 sq metres sanctioned to it and has built two towers called Imperial Towers. No open plot appears to have been handed over to the police department.” The letter said the EOW should probe whether any loss was caused to the state due to encroachments on the plot and on account of no open plot being reserved for police housing in lieu of this land.
SD Corporation Pvt Ltd is a joint venture between construction firm Shapoorji Pallonji and builder Dilip Thakker.
“The order of SRA compromised the interests of the Mumbai Police as instead of getting the open plot of 9,500 sq metres, the Mumbai Police was allotted a constructed area of 3,025.75 sq metres free of cost, i.e. 25 per cent of 9,100 sq metres,” the letter adds.
However, the SRA says the proposal to hand over built space is based on the Development Control rules. “Since the police is the land owner of an encroached property, according to DC rules, we have proposed a built-up of 3025.75 sq metres. They are yet to reply to our proposal,” SS Bhise, Secretary, SRA had told The Indian Express in January.
With the Mumbai Police facing an acute shortage of homes for its constabulary, sources in the housing body explain that if the property is recovered, then going by the present rule of FSI of 4 available to the Mumbai Police, as many as 550 quarters could be built.
“The SRA’s calculation allots to the police a proposed 67 units measuring 475 sq feet each, at an FSI of 1.33. With an FSI of 4, we can construct around 550 constabulary quarters,” said a source in the housing body.
However, the SRA claims that FSI of 4 can be claimed only on an open plot, while MP Mill was already encroached.
On the point of 400 sqmt, SD Corporation said, “We as a developer are not concerned as to whether any land/ plot was reserved as a police plot and that any such plot was to be handed over to the police department. However, there is reservation on the plot under the 1991 DP and as per regulation no. 9 of DCR 1991, the said reservation is buildable. Therefore, as per the SRA sanction, we are handing over the buildable area of 3,025.00 sqmt to the police. The plot on which the building is proposed is vacant and its plans are pending with the police authorities for approval.”