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Mumbai, 13th January, 2017: K Raheja Constructions got away with lots of violations in their Horizon Green project in Borivali East. They succeeded in procuring Drainage Completion Certificate (DCC) and Occupation Certificate (OC) in early 2015 without actually constructing drainage. To hoodwink potential flat-buyers and early-bird occupants and emboldened by BMC officials’ complicity, the Rahejas tried to secretly dig a soak-pit in December 2015. The plan was to cover up the lack of a sewage connection by channeling the sludge into a soak pit and pumping it out every month. But this plan backfired when residents of the neighbouring building alerted BMC, who slapped a stop-work notice. But the Rahejas defied the stop work orders, continued the work and completed the soak-pit. So MCGM lodged a police complaint and got an FIR registered against the Rahejas.
Illegal soak pit of Horizon Green building under construction in December 2015
  • Click here for PHOTOS of Horizon Green’s soak pit.
  • Click here for PHOTOS of work in progress, defying stop work notice.
  • Click here for VIDEO of Horizon Green’s soak pit being dug late at night.
MCGM's Stop Work Notice.
Drainage is Horizon Green’s Achilles' heel, because of the building's awkward location on a slope. This project is basically built by over-exploiting the FSI of the existing “Raheja Green” layout plan, and because of this, the building suffers from major shortcomings, including lack of recreation ground, shortage of sufficient parking and mandatory open spaces, and, last but not least, huge hurdles in drainage disposal. Between 2006 and 2015, many mutually-contradictory drainage plans proposed by Rahejas were approved by BMC officials without verifying whether the hilly terrain and existing drainage lines supported these plans. The sewagedirections drastically changed no less than five times. In 2010, 2012 and 2015, the Rahejas planned three different uphill routes for drainage and the BMC officials blindly nodded!
The Rahejas claim that DCC issued in Feb 2015 was for joining the sewage into common drainage of the private layout downhill as against a proposal for flowing the drainage directly uphill and out of the layout, submitted in 2012.
The drainage lines finally laid in December 2015 went uphill to the adjoining DP road (shown below), and joined a municipal sewer outside the neighbouring TCS office building. But this sewage connection (which is not shown in any proposed or approved plan) isn't working because of improper gradient.
The site on the DP road where Horizon Green's drainage was connected to municipal sewage. Improper gradient prevents Horizon Green's water and sludge from flowing into the municipal sewer.
So the Rahejas built a soak-pit to disguise Horizon Green’s lack of proper sewage, in order to sell the flats to unwary buyers.
Although the cover-up failed and the scam is out in the open, a few buyers have already become bakras. They are angry and may soon look for legal remedies against the builder. Indeed, the newly enacted Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) may prove to be the most appropriate forum for challenging Horizon Green’s fraudulently-acquired Occupation Certificate and seeking compensation.
ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Krishnaraj Rao
9821588114
krish.kkphoto@gmail.comPOSTED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY
Sulaiman Bhimani
9323642081
citizensjusticeforum@gmail.com Also read: FIR filed against K Raheja builder: Horizon Green Borivali has invalid OC and Fak

Not sure how to do this, given that this is a data free hatchet job by Manu Joseph. So it isn't like he is claiming that his absurd claims are backed by data to begin with. Still, because I'm irritated enough, doing a limited take down of yet another attempt to trivialize the gravity and causes of farmer suicides with the Parliament in session (during or just before Parliament sessions is the season for hatchet jobs on farmers - probably to improve acceptance for anti-farmer policies coming up?).

All quotes from Manu Joseph's fantasy piece on farmer suicides in the Hindustan Times.

If an active cricket ground exists, it would be watered on most days, or it would die. So why this fuss before the tournament? Also, the calls for the cancellation of matches are comical for a simple reason — it is on the days of the matches that the grounds are not heavily watered.

Frankly, I agree with Manu Joseph that there are bigger problems than cricket in the face of drought. For example, the state allocation of water prioritizing industry over domestic consumption in blatant disregard for law or rights and a court limits (not cuts off, mind you) water to breweries long after people have spent months making careers out of seeking water to survive. However, the idea that a cricket ground consumes less water when there is a match is ignorance of the highest order, because he seems to think that facilities for a crowd of spectators and worse, media and teams camping out (who in our VIP culture won't be assigned a couple of buckets a day) don't consume water and all the water in a cricketing event is actually only the water poured on a lawn.

At this point, Manu Joseph dismisses the first veteran of his piece. Sunil Gavaskar.

Sunil Gavaskar, whose relationship with the BCCI, it is reported, has collapsed and whose lucrative contract with the board may end, wrote in his column, “The issue of drought is one such where many lives are at stake.” (True). “I am no expert on ground and pitch preparation…” (True) “…

What Manu Joseph does not realize is that Manu Joseph is no expert on ground and pitch preparation either and does not bother with any disclaimers about his lack of knowledge. Probably because it would involve not writing this absurd piece to begin with. Gavaskar may not be an expert on ground and pitch preparation, but Gavaskar knows cricketing events and probably realizes they are not as water free as Manu Joseph's piece is fact free.

This is a mystifying exaggeration — the suggestion that if matches are held in three cricket grounds in Maharahstra the lives of farmers would be at risk. But it is a popular view.

Absolutely no explanation for why Manu Joseph calls this an exaggeration. No mention of available water that people are ignoring and dying as a hobby. No mention of how much difference in water consumption there would actually be and what constitutes exaggerated. Absolutely no evidence anywhere that Manu Joseph has been to drought hit areas, studied so much as what drought means to reach his expert opinion. Manu Joseph has water in his tap and people are making too much of a fuss. And we actually have newspapers giving space to this entitled garbage. An interesting question of how editorial decisions happen in corporate media. Forget the stand taken by an article, but do newspapers no longer require claims to be backed by evidence?

It is not a popular view, BTW. Most people hate it. 60 kilometers from the heart of Bombay, I get half an hour of water - non-potable - a day. I earn enough to make ends meet and have the luxury  of home delivery for drinking water. Men, women, kids from our oh-so-posh looking society are routinely found at a water filtration gig round the corner, filling 10 liter cans for 3 rupees and ferrying the water home. I am nowhere near the officially drought hit regions of Maharashtra, where taps have run dry right after the monsoon and people have been ferrying water for MONTHS already. Perhaps Manu Joseph would like to ferry water for a week in an air conditioned car before calling these concerns exaggerated or merely popular opinion (as opposed to his fact free expert opinion, I suppose).

Perhaps the fact that many of the deaths from drought are from drowning may prove Manu Joseph's point that there is plenty of water and people are making a fuss? There are kids drowning in the silt in water reservoirs. Falling into wells. Kids who aren't in school to begin with, because they are needed to find and bring water home, right along with the adults. How many of these kids will need to search harder, walk farther? How many adults will die of heat stroke and heart attacks as the search for water makes them wander more in temperatures regularly over 40 degrees? There is already risk of water riots as desperation grows. How many of the quests for water will be made longer with tankers supplying water to desperate localities moved to lucrative providing for cricketing events? [link added because hours after I write this, an expose shows how water for the distressed gets sold to whoever can pay for it]

There is much veneration of farmers in India by those who are not farmers. These are the very people whose greatest fortune was that their grandfathers or fathers ejected their progeny from the agrarian economy.

There is also much dismissal of the plight of farmers in India by those who are not farmers. These are the very people whose greatest fortune is to be so comfortable in life as to see no difference in resources spent on entertainment and food. A lot of these overnight experts are those who find their agricultural know-how based on specific facts and arguments cherry picked and promoted by industries who would prefer to marginalize farmers. Who lack any basic knowledge on the subject to know when they are being fed handpicked bullshit or how they can verify it. Whose world view is so limited to their personal experience that they have little but contempt for anyone wanting attention or sacrifices or even inconvenience for problems that they don't face.

[Ignoring the exhibition of incompetence on diet except for one line, because it will derail the main track of this piece here. If you are interested, comment away and I'll do a separate piece on this other glorious piece of logic.]

The human body does not require rice and wheat. In fact it does very well without grain.

I challenge Manu Joseph to provide details of one meal that someone under our poverty line could afford that does not involve grains or meat (asked to give up just before this quote). Because dear friend, if rural India could afford a diet of nuts, they wouldn't be desperately running after water tankers, they'd order home delivery like you and me. And if you think people can survive without grains or meat or nuts - wait.... lemme guess. you're talking of a desk jockey lifestyle like yours without much need for energy? Cabbage your way out of that paunch? BTW, vegetable growing needs more water 🙁 Ask me. I have 3 balcony gardens for food and watering in summer is a pain. The grasses grow much easier than these lush beauties (I assume you know grains grow on grasses).

There is more, but I'm bored now. Ending with this masterpiece of propaganda (the art of repeating a falsehood till it starts sounding true)

Let me repeat an assertion this column made earlier while arguing that farmer suicides are primarily a depression story where poverty only plays a role:

“In a country where most people can be termed ‘farmers’, it is not anomalous that most people who kill themselves would be ‘farmers’. In fact, what is anomalous is that a huge majority of farmers who commit suicide are male. If both official and activist statistics are considered, it would appear that women in impoverished farming communities are among the least likely Indians to commit suicide. Activists who ascribe social, economic and political reasons for suicides would never be able to explain why.’ In most nations of the world, including India, the number of men who commit suicide is several times more than the number of women. this pattern is reflected in the gender ratio of ‘farmer suicides’.

Not just activists, any sane person can't get this logic. That depression is the cause of suicide, but not loans or policies and political maliciousness. I mean, why would you be depressed if your months of physical labour resulted in loss? Why would you be depressed if you couldn't repay loans? Why would you want policies to cover your risks? This logic can only come from someone living in a "normal" where hardwork is not necessary to survive, a good way of dealing with loans you don't repay is pulling strings to get them restructured and bailouts are necessary to save jobs, so not like you want any favors.

No matter how many times you repeat it, fact is, most people in India are not farmers. This bogus statistic is based on some expert claim made by another columnist on economics who found his agricultural gene just before a Parliamentary session with a GM food decision coming up and has been copied by every overnight agricultural columnist whose sole agricultural writings come when policy decisions are up for grabs and have never spoken to the family of a farmer who committed suicide or, for that matter, laid feet on agricultural soil for their journalism. Not seen a single person who actually has knowledge of the subject ever buy this nonsense.

The reason for that is that the IDIOT interpreted 54% of Indian population being sustained by the agricultural SECTOR (this includes everything from distributors of pesticides to tractor mechanics and wholesalers of grain) as farmers. Whereas, the fact is that the farmer suicide problem is largely between small and marginalized farmers, whom we are losing rapidly, even as the number of suicides increases in a shrinking population. But this bogus argument remains popular among subsequent idiots who don't verify the bullshit they are fed with when they have propaganda to peddle. You are not the first, and you will not be the last. The activist types don't give a fuck, but bogus data pisses me off, so I suppose I must call this out every time I see it.

Disclosure: Not commenting on the comment about P. Sainath because conflict of interest. I am happy to share that since yesterday, I am on the payroll of the People's Archive of Rural India founded by Sainath, which sadly now will seem like I am defending him in situations like these, when it would just be objecting to rubbish before.

Note: I normally reference and provide data for my posts, but I believe a fact free article at least requires a rebuttal where you have to do the hard work yourself to verify things I say and discover a hundred more horrors I didn't say.

1

This post began life as an attempt to boost the response to the latest wave of targeted violence and/or State-sponsored suppression of civil liberties in Chhattisgarh. Even as I typed away, trying to summarize the ever-mounting brutality in that state, the news breaking from the University of Hyderabad took centre-stage. Every day this past week I have been reflecting on the horrors unfolding in India. Whether Chhattisgarh, or Jharkhand, UP or Hyderabad there is only the sense that the various agencies of the central and state governments are brazen in their attempts in maintaining control of their narrative, either through commission or omission.

The War against Scholarship

The Central Government's Ministry of Human Resources & Development seems to be waging its own war against universities across the country. The earlier controversy at FTII was just the curtain raiser - the Ministry recanted on its decision to stop Non-NET Fellowships last year after massive protests from students across the country. But now it seems to be opening that can of worms all over again - with the current fire directed at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. However, over and beyond the critical question of supporting research is the amount of control being handed to the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

The massive blow-up of sloganeering at a student event at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (even if it was about the controversial hanging of Afzal Guru), now appears to have been kicked off by the ABVP inviting media teams to campus, possibly without permission from the necessary authorities. Even as student leaders from other campus bodies were arrested (and subsequently released on bail), no questions were asked of the ABVP's leadership, with them seeming to get implicit support even from the Central Cabinet. This has emboldened them to become the government's henchmen on various campuses.

Which brings us to the grim episode as yet unfolding at the Hyderabad Central University. This too, started last year, with the shocking apathy of university officials towards Dalit research scholars leading to the suicide of #RohithVemula. The central player in that episode, the Vice-Chancellor Appa Rao Podile, was suspended pending investigation into his abetment of Rohith's suicide. Strangely, he made an unannounced return to campus, in what appears to be a carefully orchestrated move. Again, it is important to note that on his return, Podile had the ABVP's support, as noted by many of the student protestors.

The other thread throughout this narrative is the inordinate, disproportionate amount of violence by the State. If Delhi witnessed scenes of lathicharge, water-cannoning, etc. during the UGC protests, the violence against the #HCU students seems to on a different scale altogether. It is almost shocking to think that this latter bout of violence has, up to the time of writing this, not received even one statement of censure from any state or central government official. Add to this the fact that the police detained and questioned protestors in Chennai (for attempting a hunger strike) and Mumbai as well.

As I write this, Pune's Fergusson College is becoming the latest theatre in ABVP's war for control of campuses India-wide. In this, the ABVP is only following the #BJP, whose gameplan to be India's politics new singular force was signaled by Amit Shah when he first took over as the BJP President. To be fair, there were some ABVP members who found the whole JNU fiasco, particularly the assault by the lawyers at Patiala House, revolting enough to step down.

Highlighting the Real Issues

The issue of student scholarship must be seen in the light of whom it affects most. The most-telling characteristic of the student politics at JNU and HCU is that they empower students from the most marginalized sections of society who would otherwise hardly get such an opportunity.  Their battle must therefore be seen against the backdrop of the various conflicts being fought in the remotest parts of India. As the journalist P Sainath said when speaking at JNU after the arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar, JNU was now fighting the criminalization of dissent that had long been fought by India's poorest and most disempowered.

In Chhattisgarh, the State has continuously waged war against the tribals in the quest to make mineral resources available to corporates - this war is older than the state of #Chhattisgarh itself. Much of the most critical reportage on the circumstances in the state are already beginning to look dated, although their relevance is as yet intact, with on-ground situation mostly remaining intact, until now. Commentators now see a "Mission 2016", particularly in #Bastar, wherein any and every agency that attempts to speak for the tribals is flushed out of the State - the Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group has been forced out, likewise doctors and journalists. Those two bravest of local voices - Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi are being attacked more insidiously now, but continue to speak. As do other local activists and lawyers like Bela Bhatia and Shalini Gera continue to hold their ground, even as they too are targeted by the government.

In Maharashtra, the impact of the irrigation crisis has now been compounded by the crippling drought that affects a large swathe of the state. The famed Section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code, is now imposed in places like Latur prevent riots over water. Latur's MLA, meanwhile, has disappeared leaving even his party whip in the legislature clueless. On the other hand, the state's Attorney-General, Shreehari Aney, has resigned his office after the legislature found controversial his support for separate statehood for Vidarbha and Marathwada (Latur falls in Marathwada, btw). Mr. Aney is now planning to take his protest to Jantar Mantar. It is useful to remember that Devendra Fadnavis sought his mandate in Maharashtra on this very promise.

The list goes on - the state of Orissa now fights the very people it is supposed to represent to get mining rights for POSCO in Niyamgiri, while Jharkhand's cow vigilantism seems to find support at the highest echelons of government. There are famine-related horror stories coming in from Bundelkhand,

Response

The purpose of this article is to not to recount a litany of horrors,  but to highlight the urgent need for responses. The resignation of Mr. Aney, the Orissa government's lawsuit, the ABVP members' resignations can all be seen as alarm bells of one kind or another. The journalist Prem Shankhar Jha also highlighted the worsening situation of India's Muslims vis-a-vis education and unemployment.

The students of various institutions have also shown the way, by becoming a credible opposition to the whip being wielded by government.

It is now essential that empathetic citizens also raise their voices. In Bastar, when journalists found no one to carry their stories, they went online, posting stories on Facebook. Suresh Ediga and Bhavana Nissima are now using social media to leverage public support for the initiatives of Soni Sori, through their  #OneMillionPostCardCampaign for #Bastar. Similarly, most of the news from Hyderabad has come out through Facebook, with the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice -UoH carrying content on its page.

The violence highlighted here runs across caste, class and (religious) community lines, especially in the run-up to elections. There is a visible attempt to communalize violence that isn't communal to begin with. Ultimately, these issues, along with those of land and water, will affect each and every one of us. I ask, beg, request, that readers at least broadcast any and every effort at combating these issues, if not supporting them in every way possible. Good night and good luck!

Dear Friends,

We are living in times where groups which win the battle of media often succeed in serving their purposes/propaganda. Our founders had expected that media shall stand as a fourth pillar of Democracy to make it vibrant. Media shall provide power to the people and make them believe in Democratic principles. Reality however did not encompass the expected. This fourth pillar of Democracy, instead of standing up with people as a fourth underpin, as a fourth guard is apparently dominating even the other three pillars. Instead of strengthening the people, it is often making them weaker, helpless and undermining the essence of Democracy. Media, therefore cannot be ignored now. It is an inescapable fact of life. Ravish Kumar of NDTV India says, "Sanchar madhyam bimar ho gaya hai, aur wah janta ko bhi bimar kar raha hai".

Architect of Indian constitution, Dr. Ambedkar's below thoughts are relevant and apt here. He says, "Journalism in India was once a profession. It has now become a trade. It has no more moral function than the manufacture of soap. It does not regard itself as the responsible adviser of the public. To give the news uncoloured by any motive, to present a certain view of public policy which it believes to be for the good of the community, to correct and chastise without fear all those, no matter how high, who have chosen a wrong or a barren path, is not regarded by journalism in India its first or foremost duty. To accept a hero and worship him has become its principal duty. Under it, news gives place to sensation, reasoned opinion to unreasoning passion, appeal to the minds of responsible people to appeal to the emotions of the irresponsible. Never has the interest of country been sacrificed so senselessly for the propagation of hero-worship. Never has hero-worship become so blind that as we see it in India today. There are, I am glad to say, honourable exceptions. But they are too few and their voice is never heard".

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We, a group of young Indians in Mumbai began our journey with the Initiative of 'New India Debate society' in 2014 with the below idea in mind:

New India debate society has been making an attempt to interpret and comprehend Ambedkar in a holistic manner trying to locate the missing thread of 'his nationalism'. This we do and shall continue to do so in a strict academic discipline and hence the initiative has been considered only as an academic pursuit with no ulterior motives of any social or political action.

Though, we were always of a mind that we will welcome any action springing out as a result of this exercise which would give India a push towards its ultimate destiny – a destiny common for all the elements of the national life.

In line with the said thoughts, we lately came up with the idea of IFIL - INDIAN FIRST INDIAN LAST.

ABOUT IFIL:

IFIL - (which may also be read as I-Feel) is an initiative which envisages to generate and provoke a kind of Public conscience among Indians which rises above the closets of Caste, Creed, Religion, Language, Region, even Nationalism and creates a mindset to fight against any form of Injustice.

Meaning of I-FEEL(IFIL) is that 'I am Sensitive'. I feel the joy and pain of each Indian and I pledge to stand-up for the people in need with full sincerity.

IFIL also means 'I-FILL', I shall determine myself to fill the expected democratic and progressive leadership which at present, is regretfully lacking in Indian society.

IFIL initiative shall time and again continue to put forth various activities, programmes, demonstrations, symposiums, events workshops, lectures et al.

We intend to launch the IFIL initiative with one such activity. We have organised a demonstration 'In solidarity with the emerging democratic, progressive voices in Indian media' on Monday, 14th March 2016 at Azad Maidan, Mumbai between ⏰3:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m. ⏰

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Sindhu Sooryakumar, chief coordinating editor of Asianet News TV, threatened, abused after moderating debate on Mahishasur Jayanti

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Sansad Marg on 14 April 2015: Shannon, a young student of journalism, came running towards me. I thought she was approaching me for a selfie, but she wanted to show me a selfie of my profession. She asked a question that had troubled her all morning. ‘Why isn’t Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar on television screens and in the newspapers?’ The media routinely broadcast images of festivals and anniversaries, but when it comes to Babasaheb there is a blackout. Shannon’s question actually hints at a larger concern from which we have insulated ourselves. Though Shannon was smiling, she was also angry. She kept stating, ‘There is such a massive crowd on Sansad Marg, but absolutely no coverage of the event. Even when there are only a few people protesting at Jantar Mantar, the media is there to cover of the issue.’ I could have answered her, but my response would have sounded (and rightly so) hollows  - Ravish Kumar
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" Bheedtantra se Jung mein, hum hai tere sang mein - IFIL"
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" Loktantra ki baat mein, hum khade tere saath mein - IFIL "

This is to express our solidarity and support to some exemplary voices we heard and observed during the tragic Rohith Vemula or JNU episode. These voices (like Ravish Kumar of NDTV India, Nikhil Wagle of Maharashtra One TV, Sindhu Suryakumar of Asianet etc) went against the flow of otherwise Profit-making, Capitalist, Brahminical & populist image of Indian media. Amidst the noise of 'deshdrohi, deshdrohi', these mediapersons gave a voice to the oppressed in unprejudiced manner and discharged their duty of digging out the truth behind the stories. For such courageous journalism (fourth pillar of democracy) and their democratic spirit, they certainly deserve a word of recognition from the responsible citizenry.

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A day comes when you have to take call of your conscience. When principles are more imp than small benefits of life, u become a free bird! - Nikhil Wagle

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Therefore, do join us at Azad Maidan on Monday 14th March 2016 between 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to be a part of this solidarity demonstration and help us make it a big success.

P.S: The demonstration is not in support of some specific people in media but with all those sincere democratic voices in Electronic, Print or even Social media.

Do contact, Sumedh , Pratik, Kiran, Pathak, Vivek, Anita, Mrs. Geeta, Chetan, Chandrashekhar, Prasad,  and Team IFIL (I-feel) INDIAN FIRST INDIAN LAST  to join the demonstration mail: pratikse_2007@rediffmail.com; .

You can also register through the below Facebook event link.

Demonstration in Solidarity with the emerging Democratic, Progressive voices in Indian media'

4

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:

  1. 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.

  2. “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

     

  3. 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.

  4. 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. 

  5. 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.”

  6. 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.

  7. 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? 

CONTACTS:

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

ISSUED IN PUBLIC INTEREST BY

KRISHNARAJ RAO

9821588114