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Builder held for hijacking society

Law has finally caught up with one of the builders involved in the multi-crore co-operative group housing scam.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 02:01 IST

Law has finally caught up with one of the builders involved in the multi-crore co-operative group housing scam. The Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police arrested self-styled project manager of over half a dozens society housings, Pradeep Mehta, on Sunday evening.

Officials, while confirming his arrest, declined to give details of the case under investigation. However, it has been confirmed that a number of cases have been registered against him with the Dwarka police station and the EOW for allegedly hijacking dormant societies and selling the same group flats to different people by fabricating and forging documents.

Mehta had created a website, www.housingdelhi.com, where he projected himself as kind of a manager managing a number of society housings. The societies in his control were Kunj Vihar Co-operative Group Housing Society (Palazzio Apartments), Batukji (Graces Apartments), Sapna Ghar (Whispering Greens Apartments), Arunachal (Celestial Heights), Air India and Nehru co-operative group housing society. Some members of Kunj Vihar society, on condition of anonymity, said they had taken huge loans from banks to buy flats in Kunj Vihar. “Whenever any member protests, Mehta gets them thrown out with the help of armed musclemen,” the members told the Hindustan Times.

Rags to riches: Mehta is a former employee of the Minerals and Metals Trading Corporation and was secretary in the MMTC group housing society. He was reportedly sacked for indulging in malpractice. Mehta was, apparently, influential with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). He had identified those societies that had been offered land in 1990-91 but where the offers were withdrawn later following the High Court ruling that plots should be allotted to housing societies as per seniority in registration.

These societies became dormant as the original members lost interest and switched over to other societies. After 1995, when DDA renewed the offer of land, Mehta reportedly took control of the process. He projected himself and his associates, including Rakesh Gupta, as witnesses and office bearers to take possession of land from DDA. The memberships of fictitious or deceased persons were sold to unsuspecting buyers through forged documents.

Complaints against Mehta: The Registrar of Co-operative Societies is understood to already have referred all cases concerning Mehta’s housing societies to the Crime Branch months ago. An inquiry report into the Sapna Ghar Housing Society by Director of Vigilance, DDA, DP Dwivedi has stated that there are large-scale irregularities in the society. “It seems that the society is totally in the hands of Pradeep Mehta and R.K. Gupta, yet they are not members of the society,” Dwivedi’s report says. However, the Registrar had also ordered supercession of Sapna Ghar, against which, Mehta had managed to get a court stay. In the Kunj Vihar society he managed to get an anticipatory stay from the court before proceedings were initiated, sources say.

N.J. Thomas, the Home Ministry under secretary who has also been looking into the matter, has said in his inquiry report regarding Batukji Co-operative Group Housing that the society was not functioning as per the rules. “The society appears to have been controlled by builder mafia headed by RK Gupta and Pradeep Mehta and it appears that they manage the society through puppet management committees nominated by them,” Thomas said.