Prime Land allotted to M/s Associated Journals (AJL), the holding company of the Congress Mouthpiece the National Herald and Qaumi Ekta newspapers was granted a waiver of interest charges to a tune of Rs 2.79 crores ($417,000) accrued due to delayed payment for land allotment. Instead of a Nehru Memorial Library, a Congress Bhavan building construction is coming up on AJL Mumbai Plot. This information was provided to RTI activist Anil Galgali by BMC Fire Brigade.
RTI activist Anil Galgali had sought information from the Municipal corporations Building proposal dept about the permissions granted to M/s Associate Journals for carrying out construction on the land. It was informed that the company was issued commencement certificate on 14/06/2013 by the MCGM and since the land came under the funnel of the Airport Authority the NOC for the same was granted on 05/02/2014. The building will be of 11 floors and will be having a minimum of 135 car parking spaces, it also has 14 office spaces in the ground to the 11 floor, but there is no earmarking for Newspaper offices, Library and Research center. Instead of Nehru Memorial Library, a Congress Bhavan building construction will be coming up on AJL Mumbai Plot. Fire Brigade issue NOC for Congress Bhavan on 8 February 2013.
Inspite of corresponding with the State Government on numerous occasions by Anil Galgali, no action have been taken. Anil Galgali in a letter addressed to CM Devendra Fadnavis has demanded that the construction activity should be immediately stopped and the land allotment be immediately scrapped and possession be taken by the govt and since the land is originally reserved for the purpose of Hostel for Backward classes, an hostel for the Backward class be constructed on the land.
How did they get a Prime Plot?
Amid allegations that the Congress party gave an interest-free loan to Associated Journals Ltd with an eye on the company’s real estate assets, it now emerges that the company that publishes National Herald and Quami Awaz was allotted a prime plot of land by the government of Maharashtra in suburban Mumbai, ostensibly for a press and a Nehru Memorial Library, neither of which was built. The interest on the amount turned out to a massive Rs 2.79 crores ($479,000) which in 2001 was waived off by the then Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan.
Government documents procured from RTI activist Anil Galgali show that the land was allotted to M/s Associated Journal in 1983 for Rs 1.31 crore ($196,000) in Bandra. However they did not observe one of the key conditions of the lease by commencing construction in the plot within 3 years of it being allotted. Moreover it did not even pay up the entire principal amount in one go. The interest on the amount turned out to a massive Rs 2.79 crores ($479,000) which in 2001 was waived off by then Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan. The plot was given for daily news publication, a Nehru library and a research centre in 1983 by Government but it is still is in an as is condition. This plot before handover to M/s Associated Journal’s, was to build a hostel for students (Scheduled Caste) for which it was originally reserved. Not only did Associated Journals not construct the press building and library, but it also managed to obtain repeated extensions from the State Government while continuing to hold on to the 30-year lease, which now expires on 22/12/2014. After Anil Galgali’s RTI and Complaint made to the Government, now the Company had started the construction work. “Will you as chief minister be able to initiate proceedings for the state government to reclaim land that is now under the control of Rahul Gandhi? There is a question about this,” Galgali has said in his letter dated 2.11.2012. He goes on to say that the market value of the land is now about Rs 250 crores ($37.364 million). But then Mr Clean CM not take any action after a reminder letter was sent by Galgali dated 12.12.2013.
According to the Mumbai Mirror, the Mumbai Unit of the BJP has written to BMC chief Ajoy Mehta, demanding that a ‘stop work’ notice be issued to prevent further misuse of a plot in Bandra.
Mumbai Mirror goes on to further report that the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday the 15th of December, 2015, announced a probe to know whether the plot was used for commercial activities. “We will conduct an inquiry and if irregularity is observed, action will be taken in accordance with law,” Fadnavis said.
Below we give you copies of the correspondence between BMC and Shri. Galgali as well as the submissions and correspondence between BMC and Motilal Vora, the Treasurer.
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 66.91 Rupees.
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