RTI petitions hint at official favouritism to illegal mall's owner

  • Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times, Panipat
  • Updated: Dec 29, 2014 07:58 IST

A series of right to information (RTI) petitions filed by an activist has hinted at involvement of officials at various levels in allegedly favouring owner of a commercial mall that was built illegally here.

The site in question is located near Lal Tanki, a landmark in the upscale Model Town locality of this industrial town.

RTI activist PP Kapoor alleged that even as the local body officials termed the building illegal that needed to be demolished on the ground that the owner did not secure any clearance from the authorities, the then officials of the Panipat municipal corporation allegedly overlooked the recommendation of razing the structure.

A local resident had constructed a three-storey commercial building at a residential site. The local MC had not sanctioned any plan for a commercial building at a residential area.

Though the mall owner was "shielded" by MC officials for nearly one year, the then commissioner of Panipat MC, Gauri Parashar Joshi had probed the alleged irregularities.

An RTI petition revealed that following directions of Joshi, the MC's executive officer on October 14 this year had lodged a first information report (FIR) at Model Town police station against the mall owner for constructing a building without taking permission.

Kapoor said he was tipped about the irregularity committed in a property worth crores of rupees by a source and the matter was duly forwarded to the local authorities.

"The MC stopped the construction work of the mall and sealed the building after issuing two notices on April 26 and September 9 last year. Later, the erring mall owner gave an undertaking to the MC that he would raze the mall and on January 31 this year, the MC orders were issued to unseal the building on the same condition. It was contrary to the rules and smacks of corruption in this case," Kapoor alleged.

The activist has already filed a complaint with the lokayukta on a sworn affidavit and papers secured under the RTI Act on the same issue alleging that money had changed hands for not demolishing the building.

Besides, the directorate of urban local bodies had called in Kapoor to its Chandigarh headquarters on Monday to record his statement in the same case.

"The mall is located on a prime location of the town and the corrupt officials had illegally favoured the owner. While the illegal constructions by the common man are demolished, in this case the unauthorised premises was spared even after the official recommendation of bulldozing it," he said.

Kapoor said though the MC authorities had accepted the accused building owner's undertaking, the EO's police complaint stated that the building still stands with all violations intact.

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