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Co-op society for the benefit of a few

SARVANAND GRAH Nirman Sahkari Sanstha is an account of how narrow, powerful elite in tandem with government machinery, operate co-operative institutions for personal enrichment.

india Updated: Nov 29, 2006 00:20 IST

SARVANAND GRAH Nirman Sahkari Sanstha is an account of how narrow, powerful elite in tandem with government machinery, operate co-operative institutions for personal enrichment.

Founded in 1980 with 290 members, the Sanstha purchased 16.50 acres of prime land (worth Rs 12 crore today) at Pipaliyarao on A B Road near Bhanwarkuan Junction. Each member paid Rs 35,000 and booked a plot of 1500 sq ft each. The Cooperative Department fixed the Society’s maximum membership limit at 400. The Sanstha obtained colony licence in 1985 and it was brought under regularisation process in 2000 after government introduced regularisation norms.

The news that colony had been taken up for regularisation led to rise in price of land and this drew attention of land mafia. There were other allurements as well.

The 2001 audit conducted by Cooperative Department revealed that the Sanstha had 282 members, large chunks of under-developed land and Rs 8 lakh collected as development charges from members.

The land mafia got hold over the general body formed following 2002 elections. It also took possession of Society records that are still untraceable. Among others, it’s then chairman Jamnadas Ochhani, who ran a non-banking institution without permit, diverted funds collected as development charges for his business.

Although elections are held every five years, the Sanstha held its polls in 2003 again keeping the old members in the dark. It saw membership shooting up to 600 against the ceiling limit of 400.

Succumbing to protests of old members, the Department traced irregularities and dissolved it in August 2005. But it was reinstated in December 2005.

The Department neither objected to unprecedented rise in membership nor checked the voter list. An election petition filed against the unauthorised voter list is still pending for disposal in the court of Joint Registrar (appellate authority).

The land sharks did not stop here. They reduced the plot size to 1,000 sq ft to accommodate its growing members. Old plot holders protested and lodged complaints but police and administration did not act.

They then began extorting money at the rate of Rs 100 per square feet from members and constructed road, water drainage line at Sarvanand Nagar, which IMC demolished bowing to the old members’ protest who obtained support of BJP MP Sumitra Mahajan.

When Cooperative Department, administration and police didn’t prove helpful to restore their plots, the members formed Sarvanand Nagar Rehwasi Sangh Maryadit in January 2005 even as threats of land mafia grew. The Rehwasi Sangh met Sumitra and administrative officials complained about the fraud. As a result, the Sanstha was issued a show cause notice and finally dissolved in May 2006.

Its been seven months since the Sanstha was dissolved but the Department has neither verified the illegal voter list of 2003 nor does it have answer as to why no audit was conducted after 2001. Neither the Department nor its ex-office bearers know whereabouts of development charge they paid. According to Rehwasi Sangh, the amount stands around Rs 32 lakh, as about 550 members were reported to have paid Rs 35,000 each. The sum has been swindled, alleged Rehwasi Sangh president Motilal Khatri.

Cooperative Registrar Prabhat Parashar said he had asked Indore Joint Registrar V P Maran to take immediate steps into the irregularities indicated. “If he doesn’t act, then government will take action against him,” Parashar said. Builder Bobby Chhabra, who has been accused of obtaining a hold over Society land, could not be contacted despite several attempts.

First Published: Nov 29, 2006 00:20 IST