Real estate tycoon, Niranjan Hiranandani on Wednesday denied violations in developing his flagship Powai township and said that the recommendation of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) to recover penalty of Rs 2,000 crore from him was faulty.
In a press conference, Hiranandani said that various allegations of violation like building luxury flats instead of smaller houses for the weaker sections of the society, unauthorised amalgamation of smaller flats into bigger apartments as well as constructing commercial properties illegally, were baseless.
He said he has written to MMDRA Commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad to defend himself.
In the early ’70s, the state government and MMRDA acquired 230 acres of land from private residents in Powai for developing affordable housing scheme. However due to paucity of funds, the state outsourced the construction to the original landowners.
The 19 landowners were returned the land on the condition that 50 per cent of all residential units constructed should be low cost housing of 430 sq ft while the remaining 50 per cent would be 830 sq ft.
The owners in turn gave Niranjan Hiranandani the power of attorney to develop the place. However as the project developed, several pleas were filed stating that the developer had misused the affordable housing clause. The state instituted an inquiry to be conducted by MMRDA.
In the inquiry MMRDA officials claim to have found that only 15 per cent of the total flats built on the area follow the low cost housing rules of 430 sq ft. Most of the flats are in the range of 2,000 to 5,000 sq ft.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said: “The matter is sub-judice. But we will look into all aspects of the case before taking a decision.”
Hiranandani said, “I took up the challenge to build the infrastructure of Powai when no one was ready to buy any property there. There was no clause to build houses for the weaker section at all and even the MMRDA in its affidavit filed in 2005 before the court has clarified the same.” Hiranandani said he took advantage of Transfer of Development Rights just like other developers in the city.