The high court-ordered search of properties belonging to former Mumbai Congress chief Kripashankar Singh in a disproportionate assets case has revealed that several senior bureaucrats own flats in a Bandra (East) building.
Apart from Singh, the Sai Prasad housing society has two recently promoted bureaucrats as its founding members — additional chief secretary to the chief minister, AK Jain, and additional chief secretary of the revenue department, Swadheen Kshatriya, according to the information obtained under Right to Information Act by activist Anil Galgali.
The anti-corruption bureau, that had recently submitted a report to the court on Singh’s properties, had said that he owns three flats in this society.
Senior bureaucrats whose names figured in the Adarsh housing society scam also have flats in the 18-member society. While senior bureaucrat Jayraj Phatak owns a flat in his name, retired government official CS Sangitrao’s brother Chittaranjan and daughter Rucha Mistry own one each. Phatak and Sangitrao’s sons are members in the Adarsh society. When contacted, Sangitrao said: “I do not have a flat in Sai Prasad society.” When asked if his brother or daughter own one, he said: “I have no idea. No comments.”
Other influential Sai Prasad members include former private secretary to CM, Milind Shambharkar, and two senior IPS officials, the RTI reply has revealed. One of them owns an apartment in his kin’s name in another controversial society, Har Siddhi Heights in Worli, which is under the Navy and environment ministry scanner for being built too close to a defence installation. A joint commissioner of customs also has flat in Sai Prasad society.
Most of the 2,000-square-feet apartments have been leased out, even as their owners reside in their government quarters.
The society is not new to controversies. “It is obvious that bureaucrats abused positions of power to get this plot, which was reserved earlier for the proposed seventh rail corridor of the Bandra-Kurla [terminus]. It also falls in the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) and a complaint to this effect is pending with the state,’’ Galgali said. The complaint was made against the society in 2010 and the state coastal body had sought a collector’s report on it in May last year.
The society members have, however, denied the claim. “The plot does not fall under CRZ and there has been absolutely no irregularity or violation while forming this society,” Jain said.
The society was formed in 2000 on 1,340 square meters of land that had been reserved for a hostel for backward class students in 1964, but underwent several changes in reservations since then.
Galgali said that the land was allotted to the society in 2003 when Singh was the guardian minister of city suburbs and Sangitrao was the collector, though society members say there was no irregularity in the procedure.
“We were allotted the plot as per government norms and we paid the price demanded by the revenue department. There is no illegality in owning a flat here. All the members were scrutinised by the collector, and then admitted,” said Rajiv Chavan, chief promoter of the society.
He added that when the application for forming the society was made in 2000, the plot had already been reserved for housing, and did not fall in the CRZ.
Kshatriya, Phatak and Shambharkar could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. They did not respond to calls and text messages sent by Hindustan Times.