A prime plot on Link Road in Goregaon, owned by the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (Mhada), is now at the centre of a controversy.
The housing board has leased the 6,032-sq metre plot to a charitable organisation at a discounted rate to build a school and playground. However, the group, the Madhya Pradesh Mitra Charitable (MPMC) Trust, has divided the plot into two parts and sub-leased it to two private firms, allegedly for crores of rupees.
The two companies are Kare Edumin Ltd., which runs Vibgyor High School on the plot, and the other is Rainbow Education Promotion Pvt. Ltd.
Shiv Sena legislator Kiran Pawaskar said the MPMC cannot sub-lease a plot Mhada has allotted at concessional rates for educational activity. “If the Trust is unable to construct a school, it should hand the plot back to Mhada,” he said.
The MLA alleged that the charitable trust is making profits from public land. “Both the companies the plots are leased to are private firms and bound to make a profit at the expense of children’s education,” Pawaskar said.
In 2002, Mhada leased the property to MPMC at the concessional rate of Rs 40.7 lakh. Over the years, the Trust sub-leased the plot and the total transaction has been shown to be around Rs 76 lakh, of which Mhada gets Rs 19 lakh as fees. Pawaskar alleges that the total transaction is more than Rs 50 crore.
The trustees said they are not doing it for profit. Govind Rathi, trustee, MPMC, said: “We are a charitable organisation out to help people and not make money.” Rathi is also the director of Rainbow, one of the firms the plot has been sub-leased to.
Rustom Karewalla, founder of Kare Edumin Ltd. and former trustee of MPMC, said his deals are transparent. “All my deals are in black and white and have been approved by the housing board,” he said, denying that his firm is making a profit from Vibgyor school.
“My school is running in losses as per the audit report prepared by the education department,” he said.
Though Mhada has okayed the deal with Kare Edumin, the deal with Rainbow, struck in 2006, is still to get clearance.
Last week, the Mhada’s Mumbai board, during its monthly meeting, refused to okay the deal to Rainbow. “We have noticed irregularities in the deal and have sent the file to the state government,” said Amarjeet Singh Manhas, chairman, Mhada (Mumbai board).