Even as he refuted all allegations of graft levelled by Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam against him, Shiv Sena Minister of State for Housing Ravindra Waikar on Wednesday went on the backfoot, saying he would rectify any illegal construction in the Aarey Milk Colony gymnasium built using his MLA funds.
Waikar also said he plans to file a case against Nirupam for making allegations against him, saying the statements were out of desperation to consolidate his own waning control in the party.
“I received permission to construct the gymnasium using my funds as a legislator in 2013. At that time, there was no height restriction on the construction stated. The structure was completed in the same year, and it was only in 2014 that Aarey Milk Colony wrote a letter prohibiting construction of the first storey,” Waikar said. “However, I will get any illegality in the construction rectified through MHADA. That is not a major issue.”
Nirupam had alleged that Waikar had usurped a public plot in Aarey Milk Colony and constructed a gymnasium, a portion of which is illegal, using MLA funds, and also gave it to an unregistered trust run by his family members to operate. Waikar maintained that the gymnasium was constructed for the benefit of the public, the trust is legally registered, and it is not against rules to allot projects undertaken using legislators’ funds to trusts owned by family members for operation. He returned to Mumbai after a eight-day break and addressed a press conference disputing all allegations of the Congress.
Nirupam said, “Official documents state that he had been marked letters from the Aarey Milk Colony in October and December 2014 specifically rejecting permission for constructing a storey on the gym. Construction began only in January 2015 and Waikar illegally built a floor despite being denied permission earlier.”
The Mumbai Congress chief also said he will be happy if Waikar decides to take him to court. “I will love it if he drags me to court because then the court can take cognizance of the minister of state’s misuse of power and illegal construction,” he said.
Nirupam had also alleged graft in six slum redevelopment projects in Andheri and Jogeshwari, saying Waikar misused his ministerial position to further these projects being executed by companies he is associated with.
Among these, the city Congress head also cited one project being implemented by Aishwarya Avant Builders in the vicinity of Jogeshwari Caves, despite stringent curbs on construction, for which Waikar held a meeting at his official residence to push for clearances.
Waikar said, “I have been pushing for lifting of these curbs for the benefit of the slum residents of this area as a legislator since 2010. It has got nothing to do with any one company. Also, the construction permissions were ultimately granted by the urban development department, which is under the chief minister, and he should conduct an inquiry if needed.”