Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Wednesday filed a petition seeking exemption from the Maharashtra Sadan scam after five accused in the case were released recently. A similar petition was filed with him by his nephew Sameer and his son Pankaj.
Earlier, Additional Sessions Judge HS Satbhai had acquitted five accused in the Maharashtra Sadan scam. While acquitting the accused, the court had observed that the investigating officer had shown undue haste in registering the FIR and made a mistake in assessing the profit of the developer and the loss to the state exchequer. Those discharged in the case belonged to Chamankar company and was a PWD engineer.
The case pertains to a 2005 deal in which NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal allegedly awarded a contract to a company named KS Chamankar Enterprises without inviting tenders. Chhagan Bhujbal was then the PWD minister of Maharashtra.
What was the matter of Maharashtra Sadan?
Chamankar Enterprises was appointed to develop a slum on two plots of 29,570 square meters and 40,716 square meters at Ambivali in Andheri area of Mumbai. The plots were owned by the Maharashtra government and apart from the jhuggi-jhopri, it had two societies and a Regional Transport Office (RTO). The Society passed a resolution for the redevelopment of the slum through the Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) in 1997-98.
However, the boundaries of both plots were not in order. A portion of the land from the RTO was required to fix the boundaries of both the plots. But the RTO had rejected the proposal of SRA and Chamankar Enterprises.
Reportedly, Chamankar Enterprises had approached Chhagan Bhujbal in 2001. He was also the Deputy Chief Minister of the state at that time. After the meeting, the RTO had approved the proposal of Chamankar Enterprises in 2003 with certain conditions. The SRA approved the development plan of the slum in 2004 after getting NOC from the RTO.
Several departments of the Maharashtra government, including finance, home, transport, objected to the slum redevelopment programme. In 2006 Chhagan Bhujbal met the officials of PWD and other concerned departments and asked the Secretary Building and Construction to submit the proposal of Chamankar Enterprises.
Chhagan Bhujbal then put the proposal before the Committee of Ministers (Infrastructure Development). There the developer’s proposal was accepted on the condition that he should construct 100 crore rupees for the state government. Finally, a government resolution to this effect was issued in November 2006.
Chamankar Enterprises got the right to develop the slum with the condition that Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, RTO Bhawan in Andheri and a guest house at Malabar Hill would be built in return.
Reportedly, the private firm had entered into an agreement with another company for the work and later sold the development rights of the RTO land to a construction company. After that, the BJP and the AAP accused Chhagan Bhujbal of taking bribes to award these projects to the company, alleging that the cost of these projects had subsequently gone up.