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Been there, done nothing

Five years ago, a state-appointed committee headed by former chief secretary D.K. Shankaran, had questioned 61 land allotments by the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) in Navi Mumbai.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2010 01:34 IST
G. Mohiuddin Jeddy

Five years ago, a state-appointed committee headed by former chief secretary D.K. Shankaran, had questioned 61 land allotments by the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) in Navi Mumbai.

But little came out of it.

The March 2005 report of the Shankaran committee, formed to inquire into the allotment of plots by Cidco from January 2003 to December 2004, said these allotments had caused Cidco losses of nearly Rs 350 crore.

The committee scrutinised 83 files on plots allotted during the tenure of then Cidco managing director Vinay Mohan Lal. It had found serious irregularities in 50 allotments and termed 11 allotments as “doubtful”. It gave a clean chit to 22 allotments.

The committee had recommended the cancellation of and inquiry into these deals calling them a ‘blatant violation of the New Bombay Disposal of Land Regulation policy’.

The much-hyped land scam, however, fizzled out.

The Supreme Court’s observation that allotments to societies and private parties without tenders were done according to the rules came as a blow to the committee’s report. That Cidco itself regularised several land deals and did not cancel other allotments did not help.

The committee had passing strictures against Lal and other Cidco officials and enumerated each suspect case. It had also questioned the role of then chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in the allotment of plots to societies.

“Though the Shankaran committee indicted them, no action was taken against Cidco officials. Ninety per cent of the plots under probe were regularised without charging any penalty,” Sanjay Surve, an activist from Navi Mumbai, said. “This emboldened Cidco officials.”

Both Shinde and Lal have had the remarks against them expunged by the Supreme Court. Lal also received a clean chit from the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the state government, which had initiated disciplinary proceedings against him.

Meanwhile, Cidco has regularised many deals and not acted upon the committee’s recommendations.

The state government formulated a new Land Disposal Policy in November 2008, which stipulated that plots for societies be given wide publicity for the formation of societies.

The scheme, with complete details, had to be advertised and documents be called for from all societies for thorough scrutiny before deciding eligibility.

Several eligibility criteria too were stipulated.