The Palm beach residency project by Wadhwa : A brief history
Everyone who is looking to buy Real estate in Navi Mumbai has come across the Palm Beach Residency on Palm beach road, Nerul,Navi Mumbai (New Bombay),Maharashtra,at one point or the other,but very few are aware of the history behind one of the most extravagant projects in Navi Mumbai.
Here is a brief timeline of events…
Cidco (the government agency responsible for all land related issues and transactions in Navi Mumbai) allots 7 land plots in a prime waterfront area of Nerul at a concessional rate to 7 co-operative housing societies.Some with ingenious names like Sea Queen, Sea View, Amey, Sagarika, Sea Link and Vinayak.
On the surface it looked like a legitimate deal,but like all things in India,a little scratch below the surface revealed the true nature of the deal.The so called ‘housing societies’ were nothing but totally fraudulent entities,created by Mr.Vijay Wadhwa of Wadhwa developers along with so called ‘leaders’ of the Mathadi workers union, who got poor sections of their organisation (mathadi workers union), to become members of these fraudulent societies, with the sole intention to defraud the government by subverting and compromising the system and in the process, enriching himself and his co conspirators by more than Rs.35 crores (US dollars 70 million), as plots allotted to ‘housing societies’ are allotted at a discount to the market price.
The going market rate then was approximately Rs.21,000 per square meter.These societies were alloted the same land at Rs.10,500 per square meter. The total area involved was Rs.37,000 square meters (3,98,000 square feet).
Once he gained control of the land with active collusion of the then Chief Minister-Sushil Kumar Shinde, who signed on the absolutely identical and undated applications from the different fraudulent housing societies, writing ‘Please put up’, without as much as even bothering to check who or where these housing societies arose from. The least he could do was at least raise an eyebrow as to how absolutely similar computer printouts were sent as applications.
Later,this scam was unearthed by the Public centre for governance trust, headed by ex commissioner Julius Ribeiro and others and pursued via a case in the courts. Wadhwa ended up losing the case in the high court of Mumbai and took the case to the Supreme court where he ‘managed’ the system and got the verdict in his favor, even though the court agreed that it was a fraudulent deal.
Wadhwa was lucky that he could manage the system back then cause if it were to happen in the vigilant times and anti corruption sentiment we live in today, he could’ve said goodbye to his project.
But as is the fate of this country,most of the swindled money is probably sitting in an off-shore account somewhere in Cayman islands or Switzerland,ready to come in as FDI into India or into the share market as an FII investment via Participatory notes.Black money out,washed money in.Its a beautiful thing.
Important Update (10.7.2013)
It has now come to light that Palm beach residency (Wadhwa Group) is facing serious issues regarding the legality of the project as it (Wadhwa group) did not obtain clearances from the environment ministry as if falls within 500 meters of the coastal line and hence violates the CRZ act. This has resulted the the project not receiving an occupancy certificate and hence no water or electricity connections from the Municipality (the builder has managed temporary connections for now). Not receiving and occupancy certificate also means double the property taxes,no water supply,no electric supply. What is most astonishing is the fact that 80 families are staying in the towers even though it does not have an Occupancy Certificate. Currently,water is being supplied by Water tankers. It is also a violation of the Town Planning act to stay in a building without an Occupancy Certificate. Whether the builder has obtained permission to operate the lift is also under question. Further legal complications can be expected if someone goes to court over this or files an RTI and the Municipal officers are forced to evict the current occupants. Also,it has come to light that the building has 4 automatic elevators but only 1 is operational.This may be due the the fact that the permission to operate the lift has not been obtained from the NMMC. The developer has taken 1 years maintenance in advance from the buyers.
- Important update: 6th August 2013
More shocking facts have now emerged about Palm beach residency.In a reply to an RTI application,NMMC (Mahanagar palika) has stated that Palm beach residency has not been issued an Occupancy Certificate as …
- Wadhwa builders have not submitted the building plans according to which they have completed the construction.This could mean that the plans submitted to NMMC differ from what has actually been constructed.
- Application for OC was not accompanied by signatures of the land owners.
- No clearance has been obtained from the NMMC health department.
- Since the building falls under CRZ -2 area,approval will have to be obtained from the NCZMA (Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Agency).Unless the CRZ laws are changed,any change in the OC status looks impossible.For laws to change,they have to be ammended by the Parliament or the state assembly.,which again looks impossible.
Copy of the RTI is shown below…
In another surprising development,the architects of Palm beach residency,Hiten Sethi and Associates (Architects),have submitted a letter (shown below) as a followup to the letter above.Interestingly,Hiten Sethi and Associates have stated that they have acquired ‘all the documents’ necessary for the Occupation Certificate…but on closer scrutiny of the letter it shows that the only thing they have managed to acquire is a ‘health certificate’ from NMMC.There is no mention of the signatures of the plot ‘owners’ (the founder members of Ameya,sagarika and sea queen societies) to whom the plot was allotted.There is also no sign of the plans according to which the buildings have been constructed.This could mean that-
- The original plot alottees are no more traceable or are demanding their pound of flesh.
- The plans according to which the building has been constructed is different from the plans that were submitted for approval.
- This only means one thing…years of trouble ahead.