Cidco, Navi Mumbai's town planning authority, looks set to incur a loss of at least Rs 9 crore if its move to allot a prime plot just off Palm Beach Road in Nerul to a housing society floated by some of its senior officers goes through.
The move has come to light even as the state government has decided to probe recent land deals by Cidco following reports that rules were bent to favour select builders in allotment of plots.
Hindustan Times has accessed documents which show that on the Cidco Board's recommendations, the Urban Development Department has sanctioned a 1,850 sqm plot in Nerul's Sector 19A to Sri Venkateswara Cooperative Housing Society comprising officers from Cidco's planning, marketing, estate and engineering departments.
The housing society is to get the plot for Rs 3.5 crore, while at market rates the price works out to nearly Rs13 crore.
This is the third plot that has been allotted to Sri Venkateswara Cooperative Housing Society, which had to give up the other two in the face of allegations of wrong-doing.
In 2004, the society had faced flak from the Sankaran Committee that probed irregularities in Cidco land transactions and returned the plot it was allotted near the Vashi railway station.
This 2,000-sq m plot in Sector 30A was allotted at Rs 11,270 per sqm even though the area was a purely commercial sector where the going rate was around Rs1 lakh per sqm. With the total lease premium working out to be Rs 2.25 crore, the society paid an earnest money deposit of Rs 22.54 lakh.
The allotment ran into trouble when it — along with other allotments between January 2003 to December 2004 — became a part of the inquiry conducted by Dr D K Shankaran. Venkateswara Cooperative Housing Society immediately requested Cidco to cancel the allotment.
The society got the earnest money of Rs22.54 lakh back in December 2005 though normally the deposit is forfeited if an allottee backs out of a deal with Cidco.
In 2009, Venkateswara CHS was back in action. On August 12, 2009, it applied to Cidco for a 1,800-sqm plot in Sector 58 A of Nerul, located on Palm Beach road — described as Navi Mumbai's Marine Drive.(The earlier plot, near Vashi railway station, had since been sold to the Mizoram government for a guest house).
Cidco's board of directors approved the deal within days, on August 25. It was forwarded to the state's urban development department on August 27 for confirmation.
The confirmation came on September 2.
The urban development department, on September 30, sent another letter to Cidco saying it was shifting the Palm Beach plot, issued to MSEB officers, to Sector 19A.
Objections were again raised-- this time by the MSEB Officers Cooperative Housing Society (MOCHS), which said it had already been allotted the plot. Cidco offered MOCHS the plot at Sector 19A of Nerul instead, even issuing an official letter on the allotment. The MOCHS resisted.
This was when the Urban Development Department issued a letter saying MOCHS be allowed to retain its original plot on Palm Beach Road and Venkateswara society be given the plot at Nerul's Sector 19A.