Ask for probe into the role of retired and serving govt officials in the murder of Premnath Jha
Geetanjali Minhas | February 28, 2012
RTI activists in Maharashtra have written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asking him to investigate the builders’ body Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) and state government officials in connection with the February 17 murder of fellow activist Premnath Jha. They have also asked for investigation into the murderous assaults on activists Yashwant Gavand and Santosh Daundkar as well as the police harassment of Kamlakar Shenoy. All four activists have been working to expose the network between corrupt government officials and mafia-like builders. The activists have also called for creation of a ‘watch list’ of unscrupulous builders.
“Civil society is paying the price for the administration’s leniency, and many RTI activists are losing their lives trying to expose the nexus between builders and state officials,” says the activists’ petition.
Jha, a member of an anti-corruption organisation named Bhrashtachar Atyachar Virodhi Samiti, had filed many queries with the Vasai Virar Municipal Corporation asking for the details of several under construction projects. The area is now a hub of construction activity.
“Please recognize MCHI and BANM’s pivotal role in such matters, and instruct police teams investigating Premnath Jha’s murder and other crimes to question their members. Also check the spectacular growth of the personal assets of leading MCHI and BANM members and their close family members,” the activists say in the petition.
The activists have sought scrutiny of the following officials and their removal if their complicity with builders for irregularities and corruption is revealed:
1. Executive Engineer, Building Proposal, MCGM and other municipal corporations
2. Deputy Chief Engineer, Building Proposal
3. Director, Engineering Services & Projects (Municipal Corporation)
4. Senior Police Inspectors (for turning blind eye to illegal construction & criminal activities following ‘orders from above’)
5. District Collectors & Additional Collectors (Encroachment Removal)
6. CIDCO’s Planning Department & Controller of Unauthorized Constructions
7. Metropolitan Commissioner, MMRDA
8. Secretaries of Urban Development and Revenue Department
Demanding a vigilance inquiry into the unaccounted wealth of people who have held these posts in the last 10 years, the activists have asked that they be interrogated by the police in connection with attacks on their comrades. “Both kinds of searches will surely reveal witnesses, evidence, important leads for cracking the case and hands of powerful politicians sheltering the builders,” the letter to the chief minister reads.
The petition also asks for a state government panel for RTI activists to depose and submit prima facie documents that reveal corruption on part of builders — which will be the basis of creating a ‘watch list’.
Calling for a five-year moratorium on approvals of all new construction projects, it cautions against “price crash, triggering mass defaults of housing loans, banking failure and contagion to other sectors once the housing bubble bursts.”
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