Maharashtra was on sale, says the latest issue of Tehelka [28 May 2011]. If you had enough money to bribe certain politicians you could get as much property in the state as you wish much below the market value.
Below are just a few of the examples investigated by Tehelka.
- On 9 Jan 2002 Ashok Chavan, then revenue minister, gifted away 102 acres in the heart of Pune to a private builder. The prevailing property rate in the area [Senapati Bapat Road] was Rs12,000-Rs22,000 per sq ft. That would make Chavan’s gift worth Rs2,500 crore. But what the builder paid to the state of Maharashtra was a meagre Rs4,058. How much did the builder pay to Chavan? Tehelka does not mention that.
- The slum of Dharavi was to be redeveloped. Out of the 500 acres, 150 acres has already been redeveloped. Private builders are minting money out of the whole process. Politicians get their kickbacks. Tehelka quotes an official: “The project (of redeveloping Dharavi) drawn by the government divided the entire 500 acres of slum into five sectors. Since 1997, which was when the project was first conceptualised, every man who has been in power in the state has wanted Rs100-Rs150 crore as kickback from each sector.” [emphasis added]
- 230 acres of land in the villages of Powai, Kopri and Tirandaz was given to Niranjan Hiranandani in 1986 on an 80-year lease to construct public amenities. The price: 40 paise per acre. 15% of the land was used for low-income housing and the rest was converted into luxury apartments measuring 2000-5000 sq ft and sold at the rate of Rs8000-Rs15000 per sq ft.
These are just samples of the many cases investigated by the magazine. Tehelkaalso goes on to mention many scams and scandals in which VIPs like Ashok Chavan, Sharad Pawar, Supriya Sule [Sharad Pawar’s daughter], Vilasrao Deshmukh and Ajit Pawar were involved. These people have sold quite a bit of Maharashtra to the real estate mafia.
Even educational institutions are part of the dealings. For example, Bharati Vidyapeeth, an educational trust controlled by Congress leader Patangrao Kadam, was allotted a 20,000 sq m plot to set up a dental college at Belapur in Navi Mumbai at half the price fixed for such allotments.
Betrayals of farmers are also part of such deals. In the 1980s, Bharati Vidyapeeth was given 20 acres belonging to farmers. Maharashtra government had acquired the land in the name of some project or other. The farmers went to court. Kadam’s Vidyapeeth bought the land knowing about the judicial case. What Kadam did was to buy off the leader of the fighting farmers by offering five of his grandchildren free admissions to MBBS, BDS, BE and BHMS courses. That leader was the only educated person among the fighting farmers. When he sold himself to the education-cum-land mafia, the rights of the other farmers “got a quiet burial.”
I think Tehelka is doing a great service to the nation by bringing such issues into public. I’m offering my salute to the magazine by posting this blog.