Sunday, October 20, 2013

scam news -India

NCP upset with Prithviraj Chavan for stalling builders bonanza

MUMBAI: A humungous floor space index (FSI) of up to 10, offered to builders rehabilitating slum dwellers in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, has become a point of friction between the Congress and its alliance partner, Nationalist Congress Party.

The Sharad Pawar-led NCP, which has a firm political grip over this region, is believed to be upset with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan for staying it. Chavan ordered the urban development department to review the regulation 2(7) and is likely to drastically reduce this construction bonanza for private developers.

In Mumbai, rules allow a maximum FSI of 5 as compensation in the form of transfer of development rights (TDR) for builders who rehabilitate slum dwellers free of cost in new tenements on vacant land belonging to them. Top government sources said the largesse would benefit a few politically connected builders, who have accumulated large swathes of land in Kothrud and Kalyani Nagar in Pune.

FSI defines how much can be built on a plot. For instance, an FSI of 10 on a 1,000 sq m plot will allow a developer to build 10,000 sq m or ten times the area of the plot.

Political sources said the Pune FSI issue was one of the reasons for Pawar's broadside against Chavan last month. Without naming the CM, the NCP chief said he wasn't clearing files and was delaying decisions on crucial issues. "I don't know whether (his) hands are paralyzed when it comes to signing files. I hear there are files pending for three months," Pawar had said.

But Chavan hit back, stating his government's priority was to "take decisions which helped the common man" and not files which are "in the interest of individuals".

"The general consensus is that builders are being over-compensated for very little work,'' said a construction industry source based in Pune. Large tracts of public land in Pune reserved for public amenities are encroached by slum dwellers. The policy stipulates that builders rehabilitate these encroachers in new buildings on a portion of the plot free of cost and build apartments for free sale on the remaining land. On lands which are required for public purposes, the slum dwellers are accommodated in situ and the builders hand over the remaining area to the local authority to build a public facility. The local authority then grants TDR to the developer which can be used on any of his lands in addition to the FSI normally available on such lands.

As compensation, builders receive higher FSI to build on their own land, depending in which zone of the city it falls within.

For instance, developers' plots falling under zone C in Pune (comprising areas like Kothrud and Kalyani Nagar) receive the highest FSI of 10. Zone A (gaothans and peths) receive FSI 6 while zone B (Koregaon Park, Boat Club Road, Deccan Gym) could get FSI of 8.5.

"This regulation has been in the rulebook since 1994. No builder took advantage of it all these years because the transfer of development rates (TDR) in Pune were barely Rs 200 to Rs 500 a sq ft,'' said Pune municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak. "But in the past few years TDR rates suddenly increased to Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 a sq ft, making it extremely lucrative. The government is considering reducing it because some felt it will lead to vulgar profits for builders,'' he added.

A few Congress MLAs are believed to have complained to Chavan about this unusually high bonanza, it is learned. "It would lead to rampant construction in areas where the civic infrastructure is lacking in terms of water supply and roads,'' said a housing expert.

Regulation 2(7) allows FSI 3 to rehabilitate slum dwellers on site.

Zone A: As compensation, builder receives FSI 7 on his land. For instance, if the rehabilitation component is 10 sq m of construction, then an additional 20sqm area will be permitted to builder to be sold in open market and the rehabilitation component subsidized

Zone-B: Builder will receive total FSI 8.5

If the rehabilitation component is 10sqm of construction, then additional 25sqm area will be permitted to builder for sale in open market

Zone-C & D: Builder will receive FSI 10

If rehabilitation component is 10sqm then additional 30sqm will be permitted to builder.

Irrigation scam: Maharashtra BJP chief to submit proof

AURANGABAD: Maharashtra BJP president Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday said that he would furnish crucial documents to the Madhav Chitale committee here on Monday to substantiate his claims about direct involvement of ministers in the multi-crore irrigation scam.

Fadnavis claimed that he would provide enough material to the committee to prove the alleged involvement of deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar and water resources minister Sunil Tatkare in the scam.

Till recently, the special investigation team headed by the former water resources department official Madhav Chitale, had refused to accept evidence from private citizens. But after a high court order, the committee has started accepting documents from the citizens.

On Monday, Fadnavis and leader of the opposition in the legislative council Vinod Tawde, will submit documents to the committee that is conducting the inquiry into the alleged Rs 70,000 crore scam. "We have the tender documents and the supporting letters signed by the ministers. It will prove that the leaders who were at the helm of affairs had escalated the project costs and favoured certain contractors," he said.

Fadnavis said that he could prove that 'manipulators' had used similar procedure across the ministries (headed by Pawar and Tatkare during the scam) to siphon off money. "Scams involving such a huge amount cannot happen without the knowledge of ministers and hence action should be initiated against them," he said.

Although, Fadnavis said, he had gathered most of the documents from various departments, he is still expecting additional information to consolidate the claims. "We are in the process of digging out more skeletons from the concerned departments and that may take some more time. We may ask for another fifteen days time to provide more details," he said hoping that the committee would grand extension.

He said the mega scam in the water resources department might be more than what it appeared initially. "It is too early to comment on how much money was involved," he said.

The Chitale committee's terms of reference include reasons for lesser irrigated area, cost escalation in projects and the delay in execution and implementation of several irrigation projects in the state.


Ministers, mining barons pay-offs: I-T says it has no additional input

BHOPAL: In a new twist to the alleged pay-offs made by mining barons to the state government officers and ministers, the Income Tax (I-T) department has informed Madhya Pradesh Lokayukta that it does not have any additional documents to corroborate or back-up the contents of diary seized from residences of the barons during searches that referred to certain pay-offs.

The special police establishment (SPE) of Lokayukta had sought clarification from (I-T) department on the shared inputs by it. In its letter, SPE had sought for evidences on pay-offs involving the ministers and officials.

Responding to this communication, I-T department has said that they do not have anything else to share.

On May 17, joint director (investigations), I-T department, K B Goyal had shared a set of 17 documents with the anti-corruption ombudsman for action, attached with copies of few pages from diaries, they had recovered during searches at the premises of businessmen, Sudhir Sharma of SR Group, Dilip Suryavanshi of DBL group and J S Walia, and their associates in June 2012.

Lokayukta Justice P P Naolekar had forwarded these documents to SPE's director general (DG) Sukhraj Singh for further probe.

When contacted Lokayukta officials claimed that the I-T department has shared information that is 'vague', and cannot be taken cognizance of.

"The documents provided to us comprise notes on I-T findings on Sharma and Walia's group. It mentions about bribe to ministers and government officers without naming them or providing evidences or authenticating the transactions," said a Lokayukta official wishing anonymity.

Contents of report based on I-T search at premises of J S Walia reads, "...the entries recorded on page number 24 clearly specify that the requirement of funds for payments to the minister (min); OSD (officer on special duty); under secretary (US) was Rs 130 lakh. The balance available with JS Walia was Rs 70 lakh and Rs 60 lakh was to be arranged".

Next paragraph reads, "In the next set of entries, the payments of Rs 85 lakh made for the project at Jolly village are mentioned, viz Rs 50 lakh to the minister (min); Rs 20 lakh to the secretary (sec), Rs 10 lakh to the OSD (officer on special duty) and Rs 5 lakh to the under secretary (US)...".

I-T officials pointed out that the figure about the cash balance of Rs 70 lakh gets corroborated by the entries recorded on page number 25 (of their report) of BS-1 where it has been mentioned as to how the cash balance of Rs 70 lakh has been worked out. The report also mentioned alleged payment of Rs 25 lakh to OSD and Rs 5 lakh to the undersecretary.

Further the payments of bribe totalling to Rs 85 lakh for Jolly village land also get corroborated as the payments of Rs 50 lakh, Rs 20 lakh, Rs 10 lakh and Rs 5 lakh for Jolly village are also mentioned, says the income tax report, referring to a diary recovered during raids on business houses.


Holy scam: Adulterated ghee was used in Rupal

AHMEDABAD: When the Food and Drugs Control Administration (FDCA) took samples of ghee from Rupal near Gandhinagar - famous for its annual palli procession at which ghee flows as a pious offering - the team discovered evidence of adulteration. The palli or palanquin of Vardayini Mata is showered with ghee on the last day of Navratri to gain blessings; the volume of ghee runs into thousands of litres. The samples revealed that there was a significant volume of adulterated ghee.

Officials of the administration said that during a check on the procession day, they found that a brand of ghee which was used by devotees was adulterated. After collecting samples, officials began an investigation and found the samples contained oil, vanaspati and colour.

After performing "abhishek" of the palli with ghee, a tradition in the village for centuries, a rath of Mata Vardayini is taken out from the centre of the village at night to the main temple. This journey takes about four hours and lakhs pour ghee on the goddess.

After the confirmation of adulteration, the FDCA began raids and arrested Bhavin Gandhi from Aslali area and recovered adulterated and spurious ghee worth Rs 4 lakh.

The officials found pouches of 1 kg and 15 kg tins. Of the various brands that were recovered, majority of the fake ghee was from a Pune-based ghee manufacturing company.

The officials said that it appears that Bhavin was marketing the adulterated ghee.

Getting power connection takes 67 days in India: World Bank[can be done in a day with money power and political connections]

CHANDIGARH: The Rs 10,000 crore coal scam may have given a boost to private players owning coal-fired plants that make 57% of India's installed electricity capacity, but for a common man, getting power is still a painful job.

Getting an electricity connection for your house takes 67 days in India, according to World Bank's Doing Business 2013 report.

India, which stands at 105th position in ease of getting a household power connection, is much behind Iceland (1) and Germany (2), which take 17 and 22 days, respectively. India, however, has beaten the US by a day in ease of getting a power connection.

The US takes 68 days. In 2012, the world's second largest democracy, had claimed 99th position in ease of getting household electricity.

The report said that anyone seeking a power connection in India has to fill up at least seven different procedures or forms, spread over 67 days. The maximum time is consumed in submission of meter security deposit and the external wiring connection, which the report said, has been given to private companies in many state.

India ahead of Pak, Lanka

In ease of obtaining a power connection, India is far behind in both rankings and number of days among its Asian neighbours. It takes 28 days in China, 36 in Singapore, 41 in Hong Kong and 35 in Thailand.

It has only managed to stay ahead of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which take 206 and 132 days, respectively.

Even among Middle East countries, India has lost the race to UAE (40 days) and Kuwait (42 days). Oman (62 days) and Saudi Arabia (61 days) come close to India, but even these countries give electricity connections faster.

According to the same report, the average amount required to purchase an electricity connection is Rs 1,76,444.

The WB data is only a damning re-assessment of India's power crisis where 43% of rural households are still using kerosene to up light their houses, according to Census 2011. According to the same census, there are still 11 lakh households in India with no source of lighting.