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Mumbai boom: Underworld stink

Swank Towers are kissing the sky, but Mumbai's real-estate industry is firmly rooted in the underworld.

india Updated: Apr 07, 2006 01:43 IST

Swank Towers are kissing the sky, but Mumbai's real-estate industry is firmly rooted in the underworld. Investigations have revealed that don Chhota Shakeel's has invested in at least three prime ventures in the western suburbs through his main pointsman in the city, a front-line dance bar-owner who had come under the police scanner recently.

One such project is at the upmarket Linking Road in Bandra, which is being managed by the bar-owner. A controversial Bollywood actor owns a complete floor in the building (8,000 sq ft) while one of the major stakeholders is a local politician known for his proximity with the actor.

Top police sources told HT on Thursday that the bar-owner is also involved in a major project between Andheri (west) and Vile Parle. And his partner is one of the Mumbai's reputed builders. At present, work is in full swing to demolish the existing structure on the property, the sources said. A conservative estimate says the land was bought for a couple of hundreds of crores and plans are afoot to build a star hotel.

A Mumbai police official said that bar-owner had attracted police attention recently when he went on a buying spree of some of western suburb's prime properties.

Local police stations were alerted and asked to collect details on the investments and the people involved. Gradually, it became clear that the money was flowing from the underworld.

Investigations into Rajan's wife's Sujata Nikhalje's (presently in judicial custody) investments into real estate ventures also revealed that those were mostly in the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) projects. Using money and muscle, Sujata's construction firm had claimed a lion's share in a number of SRA projects in the central suburbs.

The alarmed top brass of the police issued a circular on March 23, with directions to every police station in the city to keep a tab on the SRA projects. Even DCPs and Additional CPs have been asked to personally look into any controversial SRA scheme documents, instead of relying on papers prepared by local police stations.

First Published: Apr 07, 2006 01:43 IST