“My greatest challenge was to keep V.N. Kalam-Patil engaged in conversation for 10 minutes till the Anti-Corruption officials arrived and caught him with the marked money,” said developer Firoz Usman.
Patil is known as the ‘Demolition Man’ for his successful drives against hawkers in Mumbai when he was deputy municipal commissioner.
The Null Bazar resident claims he helped trap Patil, joint chief officer of the Mumbai Building Repair and Reconstruction Board, and Vijay Petade, deputy community development officer, on Friday.
The duo was caught while allegedly accepting a Rs 2.5 lakh bribe in Patil’s Bandra office. “In MHADA, money offered as bribe disappears within minutes. The whole trap would have failed if Patil was not kept engaged in conversation,” Usman said.
After Usman’s Mayur Developers had bagged an SRA project at Sewri in 2000, he paid rent for the transit camp to the Board till 2008. But from January 2009, he defaulted on the rent payments, the ACB said.
The Board slapped a notice on Usman, asking him to vacate the transit camp and pay the rent along with penalty, amounting to Rs 75 lakh.
Usman approached the Board last month, seeking four months’ extension for vacating the transit camps, but Patil and Petade allegedly demanded money. Usman claimed that he had offered Patil Rs 1 lakh last week but the money was returned on the pretext that it was not enough.
Finally, a deal was struck for Rs 5 lakh — half the amount was to be given on Friday and the rest on September 14.
At 9.30 am, Usman reached the ACB office at Worli, where a detailed plan was chalked out to trap Patil.
Notes were scanned, marked and placed in a bag.
Additional Commissioner Niket Kaushik, who recently took charge of the ACB, sent a team of 40 officials with Usman.
When Usman reached Patil’s second-floor office on Friday, Patil was dictating notes. He signalled for Usman to go inside the ante chambers. Minutes later, Patil entered the room, took the bag and kept it aside.
“I told Patil to close the door but he arrogantly said since he was the boss, no one would dare to challenge him,” said Usman.
“I was angry that Patil were trying to extort my hard-earned money,” he added. “I am entitled to get an extension but Patil was creating hurdles.”
This is not the first time Usman has approached the ACB for help.
A few months ago, he helped the ACB trap two BEST officials of the vigilance wing for demanding money. They were later suspended.
A former Nationalist Congress Party member, Usman broke ranks and in the recent Lok Sabha polls contested from the Democratic Secular Party from south Mumbai, but lost.