Bhujbals charged in Maharashtra Sadan scam

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 25, 2016 00:51 IST

The state Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Wednesday filed a charge sheet against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Chhagan Bhujbal, his son Pankaj, nephew Sameer and 14 others in connection with the Maharashtra Sadan scam.

The ACB accuses the Bhujbals and others of engineering a land-barter deal in favour of Chamankar Builders, a private firm that built Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, and the High Mount guesthouse, transport offices and residential quarters in Mumbai.

Read more: ED set to attach Bhujbals’ properties worth Rs100 crore

The builder also secured the rights to develop a plot of land in Mumbai and sell it on the open market.

The ACB claims Chamankar Builders was allowed to carry out the makeover of Maharashtra Sadan and the RTO at Andheri in lieu of floor-space index (FSI) in a slum rehabilitation project in Andheri.

According to the first-information report (FIR), this decision benefited Chamankar but caused losses to the state.

According to the charge sheet, the public works department (PWD) had pegged the cost of the Andheri plot at Rs 270 crore in 2006. However, a private organisation conducted another valuation in 2011 and found it was a whopping Rs 4,000 crore.

“The property sale proceeds in 2011 were coming to Rs 4,000 crore. These findings have been incorporated in the charge sheet,” said an ACB source.

The bureau’s charge sheet also alleges that the contract was not advertised. “Chamankar was not a Class 1 contractor. The contract should have been allotted through tenders,” the source added.

The charge sheet, which exceeds 20,000 pages, mentions other gross violations in awarding the project. Bhujbal has rejected allegations of corruption, claiming that the cabinet had cleared the contract.

The charge sheet also contains a detailed account of the money trail, including accounts, dates of transactions and deposits into the accounts of the accused. It mentions 70 witnesses. While no arrests have been made, a source said that statements of all the accused have been recorded.

“There was no reason to club an SRA project with the development of Maharashtra Sadan. The barter was not legal. The charge sheet contains a comprehensive account of all the people involved, the document acquired from the PWD, and minutes of all the meetings,” added the source.

Apart from the Bhujbals, those accused include the following government employees and private parties: Arun Devdhar, Manik Shah, Devdutt Marathe, Deepak Despande, Bipin Sankhe, Anilkumar Gaikwad, Krishna Chamankar, Pravina Chamankar, Pranita Chamankar, Prasanna Chamankar, Tanvir Shaikh, Iram Shaikh, Sanjay Divakar Joshi and Geeta Sanjay Joshi.

The ACB has also filed an FIR against the Bhujbals in the Kalina land deal but a charge sheet is yet to be filed.

In December 2014, the high court gave the ACB its go-ahead to conduct an inquiry against Bhujbal. A special investigation team was set up, which worked in co-ordination with the Enforcement Directorate.

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