Nagpur Improvement Trust (NIT) has told Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court during a hearing on a PIL that it had noticed several irregularities in the beautification and maintenance project being run by Sell Ads. Subsequently, NIT had set up a committee in March 2014 to investigate the irregularities and notices have been issued to the firm in connection with 85 structures illegally constructed by it. NIT has sought four-week time from the Court for further investigation and submitting the fresh report. Adv Surendra Mishra represented and pleaded on behalf of NIT. The court has also directed the Chairman of NIT Praveen Darade to file an affidavit stating how the Nagpur Improvement Trust is dealing with the issue, what action it proposes to take against the structures which have come up in other areas, who are the officers responsible for allowing such structures to come up and which public body or government is getting rent or licence fee etc.
It may be recalled, the NIT had negotiated an agreement with Sell Ads (Partners Shailendra Mehta and Pankaj Roy) on 17.2.2010 for beautification and maintenance of Futala Lake areas and erection of mobile food kiosks for a period of 5 years on BOT basis. However, the Sell Ads brazenly violated the clause of the agreement for 20 food kiosks and even the space reserved for parking area was also utilized for construction of additional food kiosks and thus breached the terms and conditions by not only bringing up excess food kiosks but also erection of illegal boards and hoardings. The illegal acts on the part of Sell Ads caused huge revenue losses to Government agencies in the form of various taxes.
However, when the illegal actions of Sell Ads got exposed, a social activist Sanjay Badriprasad Agrawal filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. The hearing on the PIL was held on Thursday (July 3) before Double Bench of Justice B P Dharmadhikari and Justice C V Bhadang. The Justices, after the hearing, noted in their order that according to the petitioner several permanent structures have come up in the vicinity of Futala Lake in violation of agreement between NIT and Sell Ads. Contention is, only kiosks or temporary structures on wheels were permitted but the firm Sell Ads has allowed permanent structures to come up.
The order further pointed out that as per agreement, the permissible structures could have been placed only at 4 allotted spaces but the entire roadside is occupied by such structures. Adv Deo, learned counsel for Sell Ads has informed that only those 20 occupiers are allotted the shops at the said site and the firm is not concerned with any other person. The other persons may have raised structures privately and the firm Sell Ads is not aware about their rights or locus. Adv Mishra, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Nagpur Improvement Trust has stated that notices were issued to about 85 structures for violation of various provisions and that a committee has been constituted in the month of March, 2014 to examine the issue. The said Committee is still looking into the matter. Mishra sought time of four weeks to make appropriate statement in the matter.
Justices B P Dharmadhikari and Justice C V Bhadang in their order said the petitioner at this stage is not in a position to point out excluding 20 structures for which the responsibility is accepted by the the firm, which are the other structures and what is their nature. Attention is invited to a photograph at with the petition which shows some structures and even double storied structures. “In this situation, we grant petitioner time of two weeks to file appropriate affidavit in the matter. We also direct the Chairman of NIT to file an affidavit showing how the Nagpur Improvement Trust is dealing with the issue, what action it proposes to take against the structures which have come up in other areas who are the officers responsible for allowing such structures to come up and which public body or government is getting rent or licence fee etc. The time bound plan and above details be furnished by next date. List the matter for further consideration on 25.07.2014.”