Friday, June 21, 2013

PARKING SCAM: ‘Probe post-’08 parking deals’

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday directed the state chief secretary to appoint a one-man committee to probe how the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation awarded contracts for pay-and-park facilities below flyovers in and around Mumbai despite a former chief minister banning them. Saying MSRDC officials took a “casual view of the security of Mumbai”, the high court has directed an inquiry to fix responsibility.

A division bench of Justice Abhay Oka and Justice A R Joshi was hearing petitions by contractors whose parking deals in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai were terminated in April following the then CM’s order in August 2008, banning parking under flyovers owing to security threats. Incidentally, the MSRDC granted the contracts in 2009, even after being told about then CM’s order.

Appearing for a Mumbai contractor, senior counsel Anil Sakhare and advocate Joel Carlos said the MSRDC was aware of the ex-CM’s order before awarding the contract and so could not terminate it. Appearing for another set of contractors, advocates Avinash Fatangare and Mahendra Shingade said the termination was arbitrary as they were not given an opportunity to be heard.

Taking a serious note of the fact that the contracts were awarded despite the former CM’s order, a judge said, “MSRDC officers have committed a breach of the order”. The court also noted that the matter had been pending since April and the state had been a party to it, but taken no action.

On Wednesday, the judges asked assistant government pleader Ranjit Bhosale to take instructions on what action the state proposed to take. On Thursday, Bhosale said, “One day was too short to take instructions”. To this the bench observed, “This shows the seriousness of the security aspect on part of the government as well as the MSRDC.”

CM ‘relation’ allegation T he Bombay HC on Thursday directed activist Pravin Wategaonkar to file within four weeks an affidavit with documents to support his claims that a“close relation” of CM Prithviraj Chavan was “demanding money from builders” to approve proposals for public parking lots under a state policy.

Advocate-General Darius Khambata told a bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice M S Sanklecha that Wategaonkar had made no specific allegations or named anyone. “A person by name Rohan Jagdale, who is a close associate of the CM is involved,” Wategaonkar said. At this, the HC told him to support his allegations. TNN
Rosy Sequeira TNN

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