Maharashtra housing minister stops MHADA from ‘gifting’ Patra chawl project to Guruashish Constructions

Mumbai

Minister of State for Housing Ravindra Waikar has complained to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis that MHADA was attempting to hand the Patra Chawl redevelopment back to the very developer accused of messing up the project.

While the state government has specifically instructed MHADA to take over Patra Chawl’s redevelopment, Waikar has claimed that the latter filed an affidavit in the high court saying it has no objection if the developer already involved in the project continues so long as he mortgages some of his properties with MHADA.

The Patra Chawl redevelopment case could come up for hearing in the Bombay High Court January 04.

It’s been eight years since 672 residents of Patra Chawl in Goregaon West, spread over 47 acres, gave up their homes for redevelopment. The deadline for the project completion was three years.

The developer, Guruashish Constructions, a part of HDIL Group, allegedly sold the land to seven other developers who constructed residential towers on the plot earmarked for the project. Work on the Patra Chawl redevelopment stopped in 2015 and the tenants haven’t been paid rent since 2017.

After a government probe said that Guruashish Constructions indeed sold the land parcels to seven other builders based on a July 2011 no-objection certificate from a then top MHADA official, the housing authority terminated the agreement in January 2018 and took possession of the project.

The seven developers The developer appointed to redevelop Patra Chawl allegedly moved the high court, which restrained MHADA from taking coercive action against them but allowed it to take possession of the rehabilitation components.

Mumbai Mirror has in its possession a complaint letter from Waikar, addressed to Fadnavis, in which he has said that the “contrary position” taken by MHADA could result in the government losing out on the sale component in the project.

The letter, by Shiv Sena’s Waikar, said, “Despite clear instructions from the government that it was necessary for the MHADA to take possession of the entire project including the sale component, and despite repeated instructions from the Chief Minister himself, MHADA, in an affidavit dated October 31, 2018, takes a contrary position on the matter. It was necessary for MHADA to take permission from the government before filing the affidavit. In case the affidavit was filed in the court directly, it should have been in line with the government directives.”

Demanding stringent action against MHADA officials responsible for drafting the affidavit, Waikar’s note said, “A clarification should be sought from MHADA and if necessary, responsibility should be fixed on the concerned officials,” Waikar said in the note.

While the MHADA Vice-President, Milind Mhaiskar, did not respond to queries from this newspaper, Waikar said he was “convinced” that the government and MHADA will lose out if the project went back to the builder. “I reiterate that MHADA’s affidavit is completely contrary to the directives given by the government. If the project goes back to the builder, there is no chance MHADA will get its portion of flats there. I have directed MHADA to fix the responsibility on the officials who drafted the affidavit and initiate action,” he said.

A senior MHADA official denied the housing authority had taken a stand contrary to the government, saying the body is a part of the government itself. “We are a part of the government; how can we take a position against the government?”

The official, however, admitted such an affidavit was submitted in the court. “We have always maintained that we wanted possession of the sale component, but the court was not ready to give it. The court’s view is the private developers have already sold it to other buyers and thirdparty rights have been created, so that cannot be stopped. Guruashish Constructions has said it is ready to complete the entire project. Our stand is, let the builder complete the project, but because he has not kept his commitment, we sought mortgage of some of his properties,” the official said.

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