Acquitted in 2G scam, Balwa, Goenka on govt realty panel
The Maharashtra government on Monday appointed controversial real estate developers Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka on a key ‘quick response’ committee to solve the issues of the sector. When HT asked housing minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Jitendra Awhad about the development on Tuesday, he said the names of developers on the committee were not finalised.
The steering committee was set up after meeting between chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and realtor bodies – Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI), Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai) and National Real Estate Development Council (Naredco) – on Monday evening. Both Balwa and Goenka were named as accused in the 2G spectrum scam. A Delhi court acquitted them in 2018. They represent a real estate firm, DB Realty, and are members of MCHI-CREDAI.
A press statement released on Monday night named Balwa, Goenka, along with developers Niranjan Hiranandani, Nayan Shah, Rajan Bandlekar, Boman Irani, Ajay Ashar, Dilip Thakkar and Dominic Rommel. Awhad, urban development minister Eknath Shinde, transport minister Anil Parab, along with chief secretary and Mumbai municipal commissioner, too, are on the committee. A prominent developer, who was a part of the delegation which met Thackeray, Awhad and state urban development minister Eknath Shinde, confirmed that Balwa and Goenka were named.
“Who are we to decide if they should be on the committee or not? They are representatives of MCHI-Credai; they have to take a call. The committee [members from realtors] is not finalised yet. The chief minister will decide,” Awhad told HT.
A senior housing department official said there was nothing “illegal” in appointing Goenka and Balwa, as the court had acquitted them. The steering committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting this week.
In the meeting with the CM, the real estate bodies had sought concessions, including lowering of the stamp duty fees and reduction in development cess on the additional FSI component. The committee will look into the demands and its impact on the state’s revenue and give its recommendation to the government. The industry leaders also demanded the ready reckoner rate be reduced this year, to provide a breather to homebuyers.