A Right to Information query has not only exposed a real estate developer firm grabbing a Government property but also bared corrupt deals indulged in by concerned NMC officials in the entire shabby development. The fact was revealed by RTI activist and President of Bhrashtachar Virodhi Janman (People Against Corruption) Sanjay Agrawal.
Agrawal said that he had shot a letter to Assistant Commissioner of NMC’s Dhantoli Zone on April 21, 2014 stating a Pune-based firm “Goyal Ganga” is constructing a commercial complex in Sitabuldi area which was earlier known as Buty Chawl. However, the firm audaciously encroached upon a portion of a nullah and covered it with slabs for construction of the commercial complex. The nullah passes right through between Hotel Tourist Inn and Tulsi Hindi Primary School in Sitabuldi where the commercial complex is being built by the developer, said Agrawal in his complaint. The firm had purchased the land in Buty Chawl 4-5 years ago but started construction of commercial complex just 2-3 months ago, added Agrawal.
Agrawal charged that despite knowing the “designs” of the firm, the concerned officials of Dhantoli Zone were turning a blind eye towards the development (encroachment) for obvious reasons. “I had drawn attention of the concerned officials towards the illegal activities being indulged in by the firm. But when the officials failed to initiate any action against the firm, I filed a query through Right to Information Act on April 30 and sought information about action taken on his letter to Dhantoli Zone. However, shockingly the RTI query was also dumped in the dustbin and no information was provided to me,” stated Agrawal.
Agrawal, not to be outdone by the adamant officials of Dhantoli Zone, went in appeal against the Information Officer and Sub-Engineer of Public Works Department Anil Kadu. Subsequently, the Appeal Officer and Assistant Commissioner of Dhantoli Zone, on July 4, immediately directed the Information Officer Anil Kadu to make available all the information sought by Agrawal within 10 days.
Ironically, according to sources, the role of the concerned NMC officials in the entire episode was found to be focused on saving “Goyal Ganga” and let it go scot-free despite open encroachment of Government property by the firm. Had the encroachment been done by common citizens, the NMC officials would have gone overboard and harassed the encroachers with heavy hands. But in this case, the heavy hands, it appears, have gone “heavy with bounty” and are not being raised against “Goyal Ganga.” There are, and would be, many “Goyal Gangas” which have devoured Government properties with the blessings of concerned NMC officials who are found sitting idle in their chambers and are unable to move due to “heavy pockets,” said the sources.