Monday, February 24, 2014

Cong MP’s trust demands 2cr to return leased plots

Mumbai: Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rajiv Shukla’s trust has sought a reimbursement of Rs 2.2 crore in lieu of returning the two prime plots in Andheri (W) which it had received on lease. It has told the state that it would remove the security it had deployed on the plots from February 15.

On receiving such a letter on Friday, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan wrote to the additional chief secretary, revenue, to forward the file to him so that the process of reclaiming the land could start.

Bags Films Educational Society (BFES), which had Shukla as its secretary at that time, had applied for the lease of the plots in 2007. A week later, Shukla resigned as secretary. According to the development plan, one plot was reserved for a civic primary school and the other for a playground. The trust, in its application, had mentioned it would build a school for the poor there. In 2008, the state leased out the plots to BFES for 15 years and in 2009, the trust got possession. The land was apparently given out at rates prevalent in 1976.

Activist Ashok Pandit, who exposed the government largesse to Shukla, said the plots together were now worth Rs 100 crore.

In its letter to the government, the BFES said when it took possession in 2009, it was encroached upon and that it rehabilitated 29 slumdwellers at Rs 1.85 crore. With government help, it razed 314 illegal structures but 27 encroachers were still there. The trust claims to have deployed security for which it has spent a huge sum, besides paying Rs 25 lakh on a fence and electricity. Also, it paid Rs 98,000 for the school plot and Rs 38,000 as rent for the playground, Rs 4 lakh as stamp duty and Rs 2.5 lakh for extension of time limit to build the school, it claimed.

BJP leader Kirit Somaiya alleged both CM and Shukla lied three months ago when the latter claimed he would return the land. “He is returning the land after being exposed. Merely because he has given it back does not mean he can escape prosecution. He must apologize to the people,” he said.

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