Mumbai civil body refutes allegations of scam in tenement scheme

Congress corporators had sought probe; BMC clarifies with facts and figures, questions motive

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Geetanjali Minhas | May 21, 2022 | Mumbai


#Mumbai   #Maharashtra   #BMC   #urban governance   #Congress  


The BrihanMumbai municipal corporation (BMC) has rejected the Congress accusations of financial irregularities worth Rs 8,000 crore—9,000 croe in awarding contracts for getting project-affected people (PAP) tenements on private land.   

BMC has said that it implements vital projects of construction of roads, bridges, storm water drains, nullah/river widening, laying of underground storm water and water mains for the benefit of public at large. To carry out these works, it incurs expenditure of thousands of crores. Due to this work at many locations, structures of persons occupying the place of work are affected by it. As per current government policies such project-affected persons (PAPs) have to be rehabilitated free of cost.

While dealing with old dilapidated BMC tenanted buildings, PAP tenements are required for temporary rehabilitation of these tenants till redevelopment of these buildings. Similarly, persons affected due to landslides / probable disasters have to be rehabilitated to save their life and property.

The civic body has said that a total of 36,229 PAP tenements are required for these projects in the next three years and government department like SRA, MHADA and MMRDA are not able to provide PAP tenements to MCGM. From 2015 to 2021, only 2,113 PAP tenements have been provided to the BMC by these agencies. Further, offering monetary compensation to each and every PAP may create huge burden on the BMC funds and hence this will not be a viable solution.

With the Bombay High Court issuing a restraining order to BMC for not allotting any tenements at Ever Smile layout at Mahul and Ambapada to any PAP, as per BMC, nearly 4,000 tenements though available cannot be allotted to PAPs. Further, the Supreme Court also has not given any relief to the BMC on this issue.   

The civic body says that it has explored the possibility of constructing PAP tenements on municipal lands at Worli and Borivali where only 1,150 PAP tenements can be made available through these projects. Work orders for these tenements have already been placed.

The statement, issued Friday, says that the BMC has acute shortage of PAP tenements in decentralized locations in Mumbai and PAPs have shown stiff resistance to move to tenements offered in M/East and M/West wards of Chembur, Ambapada, Govandi and Mankhurd.

Hence, in order to have sufficient PAP tenements at well scattered locations in various administrative zones in Mumbai at the disposal of BMC, to rehabilitate these PAPs in nearby locations and avoid project cost overruns BMC has decided to procure PAP tenements from open market without directly spending from its funds.

The BMC has invited bids for getting such PAP tenements from private land owners with land TDR, construction TDR and premium after obtaining guidance from the Urban Development Department of the Maharashtra government.

The authority said, to lay to rest general public view that the BMC was not taking enough action proactively for the creation of a bank of PAP tenements in various wards/zones, it gave public advertisement in newspapers and called for suggestions of public at large, prospective land lords, developers and architects  willing to provide PAP tenements at price. The same was widely shared and circulated with all the leaders of political parties, newspapers journalists and editors so it can get any innovative suggestions on this issue.

“General response to this from almost all sectors was BMC must create enough PAP stocks to ensure timely implementation of infrastructure projects.”

The statement further says that around October 2021 before coming to the conclusion of acquiring PAP tenements on private land by way of offering land TDR + construction TDR + viability gap funding (premium), the municipal commissioner personally contacted various media persons and political leaders related to affairs of BMC for their opinion/ views on the same who appreciated the idea of getting PAP tenements through the above manner. It was only after considering suggestions received that BMC has invited competitive bids, zone wise through public advertisement in newspapers.

“Offered rates in the tenders received were meticulously scrutinized and compared with rates of recently registered residential properties near locations of PAP tenements on IGR website. Rates accepted by BMC are below market price discovered through this exercise. BMC has adopted a totally rational and transparent process in this decision making. All the documents are open for any scrutiny,” the BMC has said.
 
The authority said that print media reports in Marathi and Hindi stating that the BMC is purchasing these PAP tenements at Rs 38,000 per sqft at Mulund, Rs 39,000 per sqft at Bhandup and Rs 35,000 per sq ft at Chandivali are false when the actual rates are Rs 19,626, Rs 20,500 and Rs. 20,820 per sqft respectively for these locations. “This proves that this is an attempt to mislead and misinform public at large to malign the image of the BMC.”
 
The BMC expects to construct PAP tenements in sufficient numbers without any burden on its funds and in a distributed manner to avoid any cost overruns. The projects are expected to be completed on schedule and the shortest possible time.

Congress leader Ravi Raja and other corporators had alleged that the civic body has spent taxpayers' money indiscriminately and laid a red carpet to benefit developers under this scheme. Raja has written letters to the Lokayukta of Maharashtra, Central Vigilance Commission and BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal requesting them to conduct an inquiry and take action against those responsible for the scam.

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