Almost a fortnight after Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis appointed senior IAS officer Gautam Chatterjee to probe allegations of irregularities in the allotment of a prime plot in Bandra to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the inquiry is yet to begin. On Thursday, Chatterjee said he was yet to formally receive any order in this regard. The senior IAS officer of the 1982 batch, is currently an additional chief secretary in the state government in-charge of transport and ports. Incidentally, he retires on January 31.
On December 25, Fadnavis had said Chatterjee will probe whether any irregularity was committed in permitting commercial exploitation of the land, originally reserved for a hostel for scheduled caste students. The CM’s office clarified Thursday that instructions were issued to the chief secretary’s office in December. Sources in chief secretary’s office said the file had been forwarded to Revenue Department.
The 3,478-sq m plot along Western Express Highway was allotted in 1983 to AJL, which once published National Herald newspaper launched by former PM Jawaharlal Nehru, for building a Nehru memorial, library and a printing press. In 2001, the urban development department granted AJL permission to construct an 11-storey commercial building on the plot that had remained vacant for three decades.
The row over the plot was stoked when a Delhi court summoned Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi in a case questioning the acquisition of AJL by Young Indian, a firm in which the Gandhis reportedly have a controlling stake in.
As per building permissions granted by the BMC, to AJL in 2013, the project being sanctioned was a “commercial building” comprising two levels of basement parking, an office and atrium on the ground floor and eleven floors of offices.