NAGPUR: After reports about the Harpur land scam in which chief minister Eknath Shinde had to withdraw his order, office-bearers of the Swami Swarupanand Cooperative Society in Narendra Nagar have claimed that an open space in Somalwada was “allotted to a builder” by the Nagpur Improvement Trust in 2012.
Following their complaint to the Lokayukta, the urban development department (UDD) asked the NIT to conduct an inquiry in 2021. Even as the inquiry is under process, a 7-storeyed residential building has come up at the spot. It has been constructed by M/s Ankit Constructions in which Kishor Kanhere, former NCP and current Shiv Sena neta, is a partner as per NIT’s note to UDD. Kanhere was also one of the five politically connected trustees on NIT board from 2009-14.
The open space of 43,040 sq ft is part of the society’s layout and was in an abandoned condition up to 2018. It is only when the construction of the 84-flat scheme started that the residents realised that they were set to lose the open space. Hence, they complained to the Lokayukta.
The society members told TOI that they have all the relevant documents to prove that the residents of the area have been deprived of an open space.
On February 2, 2021, the UDD directed the NIT chairman to conduct an inquiry and submit an action taken report. “NIT sanctioned the layout on January 16, 1985. It is learnt that the NIT has approved M/s Ankit Constructions’ layout on May 17, 2012 and building plan on September 30, 2013 on open space and roads of sanctioned layout of the society. The revised building plan was sanctioned on June 19, 2018. Actually, NIT seems to not have seen its own earlier sanctions while approving the layout and building plans. Therefore, the preliminary verification indicates building plan has been sanctioned on layout’s open space. Irregularity has been noticed while giving development sanction to M/s Ankit Constructions,” reads the UDD letter to NIT.
A three-member inquiry committee — general manager, assistant director of town planning and law officer — has not still not submitted its final report. Meanwhile, the NIT chairman wrote to UDD on July 19, 2021 that a department inquiry “will be conducted against officials/employees who sanctioned the layout and appropriate action will be taken”.
“The NIT had taken possession of the open space on January 22, 1991. It seems the sale deed of open space has been done. Inquiry will also be conducted on those engaged in the sale deed,” he wrote.
Though Kanhere told TOI that his being on the NIT board had nothing to do with the sanction, records show his firm got all approvals when he was trustee. “I own the land. I have submitted all relevant documents and paid charges following which the NIT verified and gave me the sanction. I am a builder by profession and into this business even before becoming a trustee. Construction was going on for the last 4-5 years but office-bearers of the society remained silent and are raising this issue only now,” he said.
As reported by TOI earlier, the NIT had allotted its own land to 16 individuals in Harpur even though as per law it should have been auctioned. Chief minister Eknath Shinde told the high court that he was not informed about a petition related to this land was pending in the high court.
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