MMRDA has given permission to set up a multi-storey public car parking facility in a Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) building being constructed at Oshiwara, Goregaon West near Ram Mandir railway station to accommodate Project Affected People (PAP), without even conducting a feasibility study.
Ground plus seven floors are being constructed as part of “ RNA Exotica complex” which will be reserved for tenements to be constructed for the PAPs. Besides the public car parking facility will be set up from the 9tH to 18th floor. MMRDA has given permission for this car parking facility even without carrying out a feasibility test.
In reply to a query by RTI activist Sulaiman Bhimani, Rahul Pande, Public Information Officer and Deputy Town Planner, MMRDA, vide his letter No MMRDA/SRA Cell/30/17 dated 20 February 2017 replied that the information whether or not a feasibility test was carried out, before granting permission for the car parking is not available and if dissatisfied Bhimani may approach MMRDA’s appellate authority, SRA cell.
When contacted Additional MMRDA Commissioner Anil Wankhede told The Afternoon D & C, that the permission for public car parking facility has been granted, by clubbing it with slum rehabilitation project since the plot was reserved for the car parking. The decision was taken much earlier. But it is not clear why no feasibility study was conducted. Yet we will look into it, he added.
However Bhimani maintained that the permission for car parking was granted in haste by former MMRDA Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad before he became the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra, using his discretionary powers and malpractice in the deal was not ruled out. Basically the car parking on such a massive scale (for nearly 190 cars) is not feasible, because it will increase the load tremendously on the building. Besides, the cost will be Rs 300 per trip (ground to 18th floor and back). As such there will be no takers.
“The building is yet to be completed so the corrective action can always be taken to make better utilisation of 4 FSI granted. If the MMRDA does not amend its decision, we will have no option but to launch an agitation against this car parking which will be a “white-elephant” he added. When contacted RNA team preferred to dodge the query and did not furnish any reply.
is it feasible? A feasibility study evaluates the project's potential for success; therefore, perceived objectivity is an important factor in the credibility of the study for potential investors and lending institutions. The feasibility study involves taking a judgment call on whether a project is doable. The two criteria to judge feasibility are cost required and value to be delivered
Mumbai, 8th February, 2016, Mumbai: So what is going on with RNA Builders? Back in December 2013, those who had purchased flats in RNA Grande, Kandivali West, must have been quite impressed by this notice issued by RNA Universal, signed by Anil Aggarwal himself, proclaiming that flat buyers would be given possession for interior decoration and furniture work in October 2014, subject to force majeure. The passing away of Anil Aggarwal in May 2014 from the complications of bariatric surgery must indeed have been a “force majeure”, because the project is very far from complete, and hundreds of flat purchasers have become “Project Affected People”. It's an old story; shit happens, and it keeps happening in Mumbai.
So, is RNA Corp the victim of a financial crisis? Or is it a willful defaulter and habitual truant? This auction notice says that RNA Corporate Park owes State Bank of India Rs 61.50 crore, and to realize this amount, parcels of land in Palghar district owned by RNA Corp Pvt. Ltd. will be auctioned. (If you have super-deep pockets and wish to bid in the auction, 23rd February 2016 is the last date for submitting your request letter of participation). But knowledgeable insiders think that SBI has joined the long list of RNA Corp's victims, because the land being auctioned is barely worth even Rs 40 crore, and so Anil's sons Anubhav and Gokul Aggarwal are saving over Rs 21 crore by being willful defaulters and letting the bank take a hit. Anil Aggarwal was a dab hand at fooling the government and the public, and he will now be laughing from the grave as his sons follow in his footsteps, they allege. It certainly looks like they could be right!
The art of selling an 18th floor flat in a 16-storey building is certainly something that the Aggarwals seem to excel at. Even Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis isn't surprised! In October 2015, RNA Corp spent crores on this front-page cover advert in prominent national dailies, showing their closeness to the Maharashtra Chief Minister and the Mira Bhayendar politicos. Barely three months later, in January 2016, the land-grabbing by RNA in Mira-Bhayendar was discovered, and a Stop Work Notice was issued by the District Collector. But did the Chief Minister blush? Nope, he didn't bat an eyelid! Fadnavis must have been thinking, “The Aggarwals made a fool of me, so what's new? It's all right, business-as-usual, because they have been making fools of Maharashtra government for a long time”.
It is indeed a fact of life that the late Anil Aggarwal has frequently given the babaji-ka-thullu to the administration in Maharashtra, and in return, they have kept giving him fresh lifelines. Many powerful people keep raising their voices against RNA, to no avail. A lesser business group would have fled in shame from the construction industry, but RNA Corp and its group companies just keep marching on. Hats off to them!
Some instances of when people and authorities pinpointed RNA's misdoings:
Dr. Bharati Lavekar, BJP MLA from Versova, wrote this letter to CM Fadnavis last week, requesting him to cancel the agreement of Aram Nagar redevelopment project awarded to RNA by MHADA. She wrote that the tenants of Aram Nagar were kept in dark and the project would only benefit only RNA, and not tenants. The CM noted in red ink on the letter that VP MHADA should stay the redevelopment process and examine the issues.
“The SRA scheme was initiated by the government to give a better quality of life to slumdwellers by moving them into well-constructed buildings. But the developer has taken undue advantage of this scheme for the last 12 years and is causing harassment to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs),” wrote Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Athawale in this letter to Fadnavis in February 2015. In this letter, Athawale complained that although RNA builders had undertaken the redevelopment of Parishram SRA Cooperative Housing Society in Bandra East in 2002, it had completely stopped the construction work for the last two years, stopped paying rent to the displaced persons, and bounced the cheques issued to them. Although RNA was granted Commencement Certificate (CC) in 2004, it delayed construction by continually changing the plans of the sale-component for its undue advantage. As per a CAG report and as per the SRA Act, appropriate action has to be taken against the developer, Athawale said. After the demise of Anil Agarwal, his company was required to submit fresh Annexure-3 (financial capability report), or the developer should be changed by SRA, Athawale pointed out. “The developer has constructed A1 and A2 buildings in which the height of the individual flats is less than 8 ft 3 inches. The developer was given notice to demolish the same. After that, the same buildings were regularized.” said Athawale, pointing out the collusion of the administration with Anil Aggarwal. “The developer has illegally incorporated into his project the areas occupied by shop owners who are not within the scope of the SRA scheme. Also, he has illegally incorporated open plot of market admeasuring 2300 sq. metres. The developer has included 56 bogus Project Affected Persons (PAPs) supported by bogus documents. For the last 10 years, many people were accommodated in the transit camp, in individual units admeasuring around 100 square feet, forcing the families to live in cramped conditions and raising the probability of accidents. An FIR was registered against the builders for various MRTP violations. The offences were explained in a letter to the then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan by project affected persons.
Bombay High Court passed an order against GA Builders, an RNA group entity, on 21st September 2015 for not paying rent to tenants and not getting Occupation Certificate (OC). GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. is owned by Gokul Anilkumar Aggarwal, Anubhav Anilkumar Aggarwal and Saranga Anil Aggarwal. The order in “Manjula S. Chauhan V/s. GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. and Others” panned the builder for not getting Occupation Certificate, not paying transit rent and also breach of undertaking given to the court. But this order reveals only the tip of the iceberg; the society in question, namely GA Ganga Sagar CHS of Ghatkopar East, is so full of fraud, forgery and violations committed by GA Builders in collusion with the society's office bearers, that this building can never hope to get MCGM's occupation certificate. There are many criminal and civil suits pending in Metropolitan Court and High court pending in this case.
East & West Builders (RNA Group) with the connivance of MCGM and SRA officials, illegally incorporated the Shastrinagar Municipal Market, Bandra East, and its open plot into an SRA scheme, causing MCGM an estimated loss of over Rs 150 crore. Thirteen shop owners led by Prabhakar M Shetty wrote a letter to CM Devendra Fadnavis in January 2015, explaining their plight. The letter says that in 2012, the developer demolished six shops completely and 21 shops partially, reducing their length by 12 feet and leaving only five feet. The shopkeepers were promised that they would be accommodated in the newly constructed building within six months. But till date, the construction work had not commenced, nor were they given any rent for alternative accommodation. In fact, after giving cheques to the shopkeepers, the builder fraudulently issued stop-payment instructions. All the shopkeepers' efforts to contact the developer on phone and in person have been futile. Although the developer has received IOA and CC as early as 2004, the A4 building that is supposed to be constructed for shop-owners of municipal market has not been started. The site for A4 building is currently an open plot without any obstructions or encumbrances, but the work is at a complete standstill.
In January 2012, MCGM itself had red-flagged RNA with this show-cause notice. Assistant Commissioner (Estates), MCGM, wrote to RNA's East & West Builders: “Whereas the Pariwar Safalya Cooperative Housing Society formed by the tenants on the subject property have appointed you as the developer for the redevelopment of the property; Whereas your architect has submitted the proposal for redevelopment of above property, the same was approved by Improvement Committee/Corporation under the Resolution no. 174 dated 7th Feb 2005 and No. 113 dated 10th February 2005 respectively, as per the total capitalized value amounting to Rs 29,02,91,270/- in the scheme is required to be paid by you to MCGM; Whereas you were required to complete the project within three years and also to pay remaining 90% capitalized value to MCGM before Occupation Certificate to sale component; Whereas you have failed to complete the project till date as the project completion period is already over on 17th March 2010 and therefore cost delay for payment 90% capitalized value to the MCGM till this date; Whereas it is a failure on your part to complete the project within stipulated period which is causing loss of revenue to the MCGM and hardship to the tenants residing in the old buildings who had consented for this development as per the clause in the tripartite agreement, the project period is fixed as three years from the date of issuance of the commencement certificate by Building Proposal Department. The project period can be extended by the Municipal Corporation for the reason of delay state in your reply letter subject to your consent and payment of capitalized value on revised 20:60:20 basis of approval vide ICR 175 dated 4th February 2009 and CR/1259 dated 9thFebruary 2009 respectively; This office has received orders from Additional Municipal Commissioner to inform you that the Municipal Commissioner will not extend the project period if you are not able to give satisfactory explanation of the delay in completion of the project... You are hereby finally directed to show cause within seven days on receipt of this letter and to pay the 90% capitalized value amounting to Rs 26,12,62,143/- with interest thereon at 18% calculated till 31st December 2011, amounting to Rs 8,43,91,251/-. The total amounting to Rs 34,56,53,394/- within seven days and payment of applicable stamp duty with penalty if any failing which following action will be initiated against you; The Building Proposal Department will be directed to issue stop work notice for the above referred project work and all other projects undertaken by you in MCGM; You and your companies will not be allowed to take up any other MCGM project in future; The law officer will launch prosecution against you for recovery of payment which is due to MCGM. If the building is found occupied in part or full, the building Proposal Department will be asked to issue notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and take further action, which please note”. This letter has a footnote directing Executive Engineer (Building Proposal) City to issue stop work notice to the Pariwar Safalya CHS redevelopment project and “any other project being undertaken by this developer / Notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and not to process any other redevelopment project as per AMC(ES)s order under No. AMC/ES/702/4 dated 26-12-2011.”
RTI Activist Sulaiman Bhimani, who is also a Project Affected Person (PAP), recently made a detailed complaint to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police regarding the corrupt misdoings of Skyline Construction Company of RNA Group at its SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre (ODC), Jogeshwari West. Highlights of this complaint: “MMRDA has spent almost Rs 9 crore for repairing the substandard work in PAP building in lieu of which TDR was released, and MMRDA has not recovered any amount from the developer, the MMRDA officials accepted the substandard work without any verification. The plumber has certified that he has used AC pipes but on site very low quality and substandard PVC pipes have been used and the engineer who accepted this certificate has not put any note on it for the change of material nor raised any objection for substandard work. The Project Management Consultant (PMC) certified that Plumbing and Drainage work is done as per approved plan, but on site the story is different. The Chambers as per approved plan have been shown 1.5mts away from the building line but onsite they are touching the building line as well as the underground water tank. Due to this shoddy work the water gets contaminated and even after spending Rs 9 crores this defect still exists. The Developer was issued IOA and CC on the same day, which is very unusual. Normally IOA is issued to the developer with 38 conditions to comply and it takes almost 45 days to comply all the conditions of IOA and the developer after complying all the conditions applies for CC and the MMRDA officials visit the site to verify all the compliance but in this case the IOA and CC were issued on the same day. There is open space violation which is in violation of fire safety norms, but MMRDA officials have turned Nelson eyes even after repeated complaints. The Recreation which as per Agreement was supposed to be developed by developer not been handed over to MMRDA for Public Use even after 10 years. Pedestrian Plaza as per Agreement and IOA condition and LOI was supposed to be developed by developer, but the same is not constructed. But TDR/FSI of 55000 sft is released for the same to the developer.” The so-called pedestrian plaza is a scam whereby, without laying a single brick or redeveloping a single inch of slum land, RNA earned 55,000 square feet of TDR, worth over Rs 4,000/- per square foot. That alone means a free gift of over Rs 22 crore for the Aggarwal family. He has also pointed out how RNA Exotica in ODC has gobbled up a 25-metre public road and used it for RNA's site office.
In the case of RNA Palazzo in Kandivali West, which is being advertised as “space, Luxury and lifestyle all packed into your customized 2 BHK apartments”, 24 investors and flat purchasers have filed a complaint to EOW of Mumbai Police of outright cheating and fraud. After cumulatively paying more than Rs 50 crore (some have paid 50 percent, and other 100 percent of the value of the flat purchase), these purchasers are left high and dry, because the construction work stopped in September 2011, and has not resumed till date. The completion date was December 2012, and more thanthree years later, the Aggarwals have nothing to offer their buyers other than false assurances.
There are at least a dozen such stories about RNA Corp in Mumbai, still waiting to be told. One keeps getting calls from victims all the time – many of them so demoralized that they are unlikely to ever lift a finger to even write a letter of complaint.
Well done, Anil Aggarwal. Your legacy is in safe hands. Lagey raho!
WANT TO HEAR ABOUT RNA'S SCAMS FROM THE HORSES' MOUTH?
a) For details on GA Ganga Sagar in Ghatkopar East, call Mukesh Chauhan 9324526890
b) For details on RNA Grande in Kandivali West, call Mr Mihir 75060940.
c) For details on RNA's SRA project at Sewri, call Sujata Vijay Kumar 9869286842
d) For details on RNA's Aram Nagar redevelopment project in Versova, call Shaikh Nasreen 9833639370
e) For details of RNA Palazzo project, Kandivali West, call Advocate Ameet Mehta 9821283232
f) For details of RNA's redevelopment project in Kalina (where the building was demolished five years ago, and rent for alternative accommodation stopped getting paid),
g) For details of RNA's multifaceted cheating in the SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre, RNA Exotica and many other RNA projects in Mumbai,call Sulaiman Bhimani 9323642081
CIC Ratnakar Gaikwad: “For MMRDA’s Corruption when I was chief, Buck doesn’t stop with me!”
Report of Activists Meeting with Chief SIC Ratnakar Gaikwad on Monday, 11 June
12 June 2012, Mumbai. At 4.30 yesterday afternoon, six RTI activists who opposed Ratnakar Gaikwad’s selection as Maharashtra Chief Information Commissioner met him to discuss documentary evidence of their allegations against him. The meeting – a follow-up to Mr Gaikwad’s challenge to back their allegations with documents – was attended by half a dozen journalists. The activists were G R Vora, Anil Galgali, Sulaiman Bhimani, Mohammad Afzal, Kamlakar Shenoy and Krishnaraj Rao.
The focus of the meeting was sit across the table and seek explanations for many RTI documents about Adarsh and other scams that happened during his tenure as Metropolitan Commissioner of MMRDA. However, Ratnakar Gaikwad did not look at any document, and dwelt on generalities such as, “I am a bona fide person, and not even my worst enemies will say that I have ever acted mala fidely in any matter. You can ask any ten honest officers of your choice their opinion about me, they will all vouch for my honesty. Every file at MMRDA was not placed on my table. Many other IAS officers were responsible.” The activists were left feeling frustrated by his unwillingness to read the documents and take responsibility.
The activists, who had sought the appointment with him, made it clear at the outset that unlike the groups of RTI activists who had met him earlier that day to welcome him, they opposed his selection as Information Commissioner. Their objections were:
1. NO ONE SHOULD BE A JUDGE IN HIS OWN CAUSE. Ratnakar Gaikwad was earlier the Chief Secretary, which is the highest post in Mantralaya. He was also Metropolitan Commissioner of MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority). At that time, he may have been responsible for non-disclosure of many documents, or at least had a stake in documents not being given to RTI activist. And now, as Chief Information Commissioner, Ratnakar Gaikwad is the person responsible for hearing cases against various departments of Mantralaya and against MMRDA. This violates a key principle of natural justice, and makes Mr Gaikwad, who was clearly an interested party, a judge in his own cause.
2. VIOLATION OF COOLING-OFF PERIOD PRINCIPLE. To avoid conflict of interest, a cooling-off period of at least a couple of years is stipulated for such postings in government. For example, a government employee of any department cannot be appointed as an auditor of that department. Violating this crucial principle, Ratnakar Gaikwad was appointed to his present position, where he is to hear and pass orders on second appeals concerning Mantralaya, one week after his retirement from Mantralaya.
3. ABUSE OF POWER -- SELECTING HIMSELF AS INFORMATION COMMISSIONER. As Chief Secretary, Ratnakar Gaikwad was until one week ago the top bureaucrat. Along with the Chief Minister, he was one of the two or three persons in the government charged with overseeing the smooth working of the Maharashtra Information Commission, and therefore ensuring that the posts of Chief Information Commissioner and other Information Commissioners do not remain vacant. But he allowed the post of Chief Information Commissioner to remain vacant for 10 months, until he retired and stepped into the position himself. This is an act of corruption.
[GAIKWAD’S REBUTTAL: Ratnakar Gaikwad claimed that firstly, he was not solely responsible for functioning of the entire state government, and therefore, the decision for selection of Chief Information Commissioner did not lie with him even while he was the Chief Secretary. Secondly, he had never sought any posting in his career – neither the post of MMRDA’s Metropolitan Commissioner, nor of Chief Secretary, and nor of Chief Information Commissioner. In fact, he had no inkling that he was going to be made Chief Information Commissioner until he was asked to apply for the post in May. “In fact, I was looking forward to my retirement, and had asked my family to look for a house, as we would soon be relinquishing our quarters,” he said.]
4. TAINT OF ADARSH SCAM – GIVING OCCUPATION CERTIFICATE. As Metropolitan Commissioner of MMRDA, Ratnakar Gaikwad had acted against public interest by issuing occupation certificate to Adarsh building, ignoring objections raised by Western Naval Commanding-in-Chief about national security issues. Read Shri Gaikwad’s correspondence with Western Naval Command: http://tinyurl.com/Adarsh-OC-Ratnakar-Gaikwad-red
[GAIKWAD’S REBUTTAL: Ratnakar Gaikwad held stoutly to his position that he was not solely responsible for the security implications of the building. “The Adarsh file passed through me at several stages, and the credentials of all the IAS officers concerned, including Jairaj Phatak, are impeccable and without taint. As for security concerns about Adarsh being near the naval defence installations -- security was the job of the police, and not my job,” he argued. “The Navy’s letter was addressed to the State Government, and not directly addressed to me. Also, had the Navy directly asked me not to issue the OC, I would not have done so. But they only asked for information about the occupants of the individual flats of Adarsh building, and they did not mention the security concerns. (PS: We actually read out the portions of the Navy’s letter that stressed the security threat in almost every paragraph, and repeatedly urged the government not to issue the OC pending clearance by the Navy. But Gaikwad was adamant, and insisted that he was never aware that Adarsh was a security threat.)]
5. SCANDALS AT MMRDA DURING HIS TENURE. We placed various documents (both issued and accepted by MMRDA during his tenure as Metropolitan Commissioner) on the table before Ratnakar Gaikwad. They were obviously defective documents that should have resulted in immediate action against the persons concerned, as such as blank permissions with no dates etc. In one instance, a contract worth many crores of rupees was awarded to a spurious construction company with a net worth of only two lakh rupees and no commercial activities on its books, and its financial status is obvious from the website. Complaints were addressed to him when he was at MMRDA -- both hard copies and emails. However, he had never even acknowledged them then, and he refused to look at them now.
At this meeting, he asserted he had never seen any complaint from Sulaiman Bhimani against RNA Builders, Grace Developers or any other party before. Bhimani and Krishnaraj Rao kept putting documents like contracts and permissions on his table, but Ratnakar Gaikwad did not seek to read even one of them. Perfunctorily turning a couple of pages thrust at him, he insisted that even if he was head of MMRDA when these contracts and permissions were awarded, he was not the person responsible. “If there is anything wrong, you should seek action by complaining to the proper authorities or going to court”, he concluded before getting up and retreating to his private chamber. All our attempts to fix responsibility for oversight and due-diligence, and due processes were frustrated as he kept turning the discussion to one point that can be paraphrased as: “I am a good man, and I never done any wrong. If there were wrongdoings at Mantralaya and MMRDA even during my tenure, I don’t know about them, I was not informed and maybe, if such things happened, other people are responsible.”
The activists were left scratching their heads and wondering: if the head of a public authority does not take responsibility for the blatant wrongdoings and corruption that happen there during his tenure, who is to be held responsible? If the buck does not stop at the top person in an organization, where does it stop?
BOTTOMLINE: Gandhiji’s three monkeys that say, “See no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil”.