A special judge has observed that there is a case against Hiranandani constructions for blatant violations in its Powai project. The court also directed the Anti Corruption bureau to investigate the matter and file a report. Along with Hiranandani there are also a few bureaucrats who face the axe. Among them Mr.Thomas Benjamin, a secretary in the Urban Development Department. Mr.Benjamin had curiously levied a Rs 3 crore fine on Hiranandani for the violations, which range into a few thousand crores at least. Some estimates put the scam value at Rs 50,000 crores.
The reason that Mr.Benjamin gave was even more curious than the fine. He said that the figure was arrived after referring to the previous decisions of MMRDA and the Govt.
Most people who live in Hiranandani complex do not know that their glitzy apartments worth a few crores were supposed to be part of the Powai Housing Development scheme for economically weaker sections of society.
The scheme was announced in 1977 and was supposed to cover the villages of Powai, Kopri and Tirandaz, an area of 140 hectares. The state gave Mr.Hiranandani 230 acres at a Rs.1 per hectare as Mr.Hiranandani was supposedly going to build ‘affordable’ housing for the economically weaker section.
The contract between Mr.Hiranandani, the state and MMRDA was for 10 years during which not only did Mr.Hiranandani not build ‘affordable’ housing but also failed to handover 15% of the residential units to the government, as was stated in the contract.
As a reward for his ‘excellence’, neither the MMRDA or the BMC took any punitive action against Mr.Hiranandani.
In the end, as a token of his appreciation, Mr.Thomas Benjamin slapped a fine of Rs 3 crore and decided that it was enough.
Another day, another scam in the great nation of India.
UPDATE : 4th March 2021
Mumbai: Bombay High Court directed a committee to find out how many flats were constructed by Hiranandani Group in the Powai Area Development Scheme after its 2017 order allowing it time to complete the constructions.
The order by a bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice Girish Kulkarni was passed on Hiranandani’s application to extend timelines given to it in October 2017 to complete construction of four wings of Castle Rock, five wings of Regent Hill, three wings of Atlantis and two buildings —Sorrento and Maple.
In February 2012, on a PIL, the high court had directed Hiranandani to construct 1,511 flats of 40 sq mts (430 sq ft) and 1,593 flats of 80 sq mts (861) sq ft before undertaking any other construction.
The PIL by activists Kamlakar Satve, Rajendra Thacker and Medha Patkar said Hiranandani had signed a lease for 230 acres of land in 1986 in a tripartite agreement with the state and MMRDA to build affordable housing. The petitioners, however, alleged that the flats were merged into sprawling 4,000-5,000 sq ft apartments and sold at premium rates.
On the developer’s application, the HC in October 2017 had granted time till June 2021 to complete the construction. It had also set up a committee to verify the developer’s claim. The builder has sought that the delay be condoned and further extension of timelines ranging from January 2022 till June 2023 be granted. It cited Covid-19 for the delay.