Corruption is the curse of the country. The way, in which one scam is being exposed after the other, it shows just how shameless corruption has become in the country. The situation in Navi Mumbai is no different. Courtesy a handful of corrupt bureaucrats and officials in CIDCO and NMMC, Navi Mumbai has always been a fertile ground for scams and misappropriation of lands. And two examples of these that symbols of corruption polluting the skyline of Palm Beach are Vanashree and Venus. While getting an affordable flat in Mumbai has become a distant dream for the aam admi, senior IAS officers are the lucky few who, along with family, have cornered more than two flats – one in Mumbai and one in neighboring city Navi Mumbai. An example of this is Vanashree – a society whose very foundation were allegedly laid with violations and corruption. If you are a resident of Navi Mumbai, you must have passed through this tower of corruption standing tall next to the NRI Complex on Palm Beach Road. For those who do not know, Vanashree was first dragged to court by the Mumbai based NGO for violation of CRZ norms and consuming excess FSI of 1.5 when the permissible limit was 1 FSI. The violations in the making on Vanashree do not come as a surprise considering that the top most bureaucrats of administrative service in the state own a flat in Vanashree. The list of the IAS who gobbled up flats in this society include the likes of : * Former CIDCO Managing Director G S Gill * Former BEST General Manager Uttam Khobragade * Former MCGM Addtl. Commissioner Mannukumar Srivastava * Former Thane Collector Iqbal Chahal Ever since this prime plot next to a proposed golf course was reserved for IAS and IPS officials, the allegations of corruption and violations have not stopped. It in fact, is just another example of how CIDCO has misused power and schemes for personal benefits of bureaucrats. The officials who have flats in Sector 58, Nerul situated Vanashree today own a 1,500-sq-ft flat in this society located on a prime plot. Government rules forbid a government servant from owning two houses in the same district, in this case within Greater Mumbai limits. However most bureaucrats who have flats in Vanashree are violating this rule, as they have a flat in Mumbai and another in Navi Mumbai. For example Dr. Jairaj Phatak has four flats in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. Advocate Y P Singh has said it is ethically wrong to corner so many houses at concessional rates. He has said “Several IAS officers have broken this rule. They have at least two concessional flats, one in Mumbai and the other in Navi Mumbai”. And it’s not like Vanashree is the only tower of corruption on Palm Beach Road. Its neighbor Venus is no different. According to a social activist who plans to go to court against Venus, it was during the tenure of former CIDCO MD V M Lal that this prime plot was illegally given at throw away price to a builder. And when the plots allotted in Lal’s tenure came under the scrutiny of the Shankaran Committee, CIDCO’s Town Manager Services Vivek Marathe went to the extent to hiding information from the Commission on this plot, a senior journalist alleges. The journalist alleges that Venus has illegally consumed 1.5 FSI and has even sold part of the property for commercial purpose. The shocker is that of the state bureaucrats who have flats in Venus, once again the name of State Information Commissioner Ramanand Tiwari has surfaced who already has a flat in Vanashree. Besides him, former Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Ramrao Ghadge and allegedly even CIDCO Manager of Town Services Vivek Marathe own a flat in Venus. He says that he was investigating a scam that was hidden from the Shankaran Committee and later it came to his knowledge that the plot in question was that given to Venus. The scribe says that the papers show that it is a scam of atleast of Rs. 200 Crores. Journalist Vivek Patil says that he is all set to file a PIL against Venus and will demand a CBI enquiry against CIDCO Manager of Town Services Vivek Marathe’s assets, properties and bank accounts. Eminent social activist Sandeep Thakur, who perhaps knows Vivek Marathe’s ways of working more than any other citizen; says that such an officer surviving for so long on the post of Manager of Town Services does not reflect well for CIDCO. Sandeep Thakur also cites an example of what can be termed as Vivek Marathe’s purpose delay in cases where influential people are involved in violations. Vanashree and Venus are one of the hundreds of carefully orchestrated hijack of plots meant for a city and its taxpaying – a hijack that tells us a saga of the eroding values and morals in the bureaucratic and political system. Vanashree and Venus are two symbols of corruption polluting the Palm Beach skyline. This has been established. What remains to be seen is that will the new Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan take action against the babus of the state who loot the state treasury for pure vested interests? After all we are talking about action against two corrupt towers that have homes of not just any officials of the government; but top bureaucrats of the repute of the State Chief Secretary and State Information Officer. With cameraperson Vinayak Dalvi, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.
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