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Pallonji firm that built Imperial Towers allegedly duped Mumbai Police

Ashwin Aghor | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:52 IST

Rejoinder from SD Corp:

We would like to bring to your notice that Mr. Pallonji Mistry is not in any way concerned with the affairs of SD Corporation.

SD Corporation is the Developer of the project at MP Mill Compound. Though it is true that in the year 1989 a portion of land was agreed to be allotted by the Government of Maharashtra to Police Housing vide a circular of 1989, the said circular never got implemented on account of the land being encroached. Upon the enactment of the Development Control Regulations of 1991 framed under the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act, 1967, having a statutory force, the circular of 1989 stood superseded. However, as per the reservation on a portion of the land for police housing in the DCR, the SRA authority has directed us to handover constructed tenements to police in lieu of the said reservation as provided under the DCR. The plans relating to such constructed tenements to be provided to police are pending approval of the police department since the year 2008.

In view thereof, we are committed to handover the tenements to the police department as directed by SRA and upon receipt of the approved plans from the Police department. The allotment of the constructed tenements to police has been confirmed by the State Government in its meeting held in presence of all the concerned parties including the Joint Police Commissioner in charge of police housing. We are in possession of all the relevant documents.

When you get duped by someone, who do you reach out to? Obviously, the police. But what happens when the police is duped?

According to RTI activist Anil Galgali, four real estate developers in Mumbai have allegedly duped the Mumbai Police of prime land, going back on previous commitments.

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Among them is a firm co-owned by Pallonji Mistry, the Irish-Indian construction tycoon who was recently awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India. Pallonji was the head of the Shapoorji Pallonji Group, which is now chaired by his son, Shapoor. Pallonji is also the father of Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry.

The firm in question is called SD Corporation, and was responsible for constructing the iconic twin Imperial Towers at Tardeo in Mumbai.

"I got information about four cases where the Mumbai Police has been duped of constructed tenements, which includes the Shapoorji Pallonji-partnered SD Corporation," Galgali said.

As per RTI activist Anil Galgali, four real estate developers have duped the Mumbai Police of land

Galgali had filed the RTI query seeking information on the availability of land for police housing across the state of Maharashtra, and the current status of the land. He had filed his query to the Maharashtra State Police Housing and Welfare Corporation on 19 October 2015.

The reply to the query was given by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, headquarters, Mumbai. According to the reply, the Economic Offences Wing of the Mumbai Police is investigating the case.

Details of the case

- The case pertains to alleged encroachment on 4.26 hectares of land belonging to MP Mills.

- The Revenue and Forest Department, Government of Maharashtra, issued an order for the redevelopment of the compound on 2 February 1989, after slum-dwellers had encroached upon the land.

- Of the 4.26 hectares, 3.31 were earmarked for slum rehabilitation, while 0.95 hectares (9,500 square metres) were ordered to be reserved for the police.

- The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) then issued a letter of intent, ordering SD Corporation to provide 3,025.75 sq m (approx 0.3 hectares) of constructed space free of cost, instead of '9,100 sq m' of land on the plot. As per the approved plan, this meant 68 tenements for the Mumbai Police.

One of the firms in question co-owned by Pallonji Mistry, who was recently awarded the Padma Bhushan

- As per the Revenue and Forest Department order, the developer was asked to reserve 9,500 sq m. But the SRA letter of intent mentions 9,100 sq m of land, which means the police lost 400 sq m of land due to either collusion or clerical error.

- According to Galgali, SD Corporation constructed the Imperial Towers immediately, but never handed over either the land earmarked for the police, nor the 3,025.75 sq m of constructed space in lieu of it.

- Galgali adds: "When the matter was brought to the notice of Additional Director General of Police, Housing, an inquiry was ordered on 7 May 2005. The ADG, Housing, ordered the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, to hand over the inquiry to EOW." The matter is currently being investigated. When contacted, a senior EOW official, who did not wish to be named, confirmed the inquiry and expressed inability to divulge any further details.

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Land worth crores

The project has been 'in progress' for the past 17 years. According to current market rates, the prices for residential premises at the Imperial Towers are Rs 60,000 per sq ft. The prices in the immediate vicinity range from Rs 27,000 per sq ft to Rs 70,000 per sq ft. (Note: 3,025 sq m = 32,560 sq ft)

This means that the total cost of the tenements meant to be handed over to the Mumbai Police by SD Corporation is currently around Rs 195 crore.

The cost of the tenements meant to be handed over to cops by SD Corporation is around Rs 195 crore

In light of the above, Galgali questioned the Central government's decision to confer the nation's third-highest civilian honour on Pallonji Mistry.

"In the present context, and looking at the inquiry in the case of virtual cheating by the SD Corporation, it was highly inappropriate of the government to confer Padma Bhushan on a partner of the firm being investigated for cheating the police department," he said, adding: "It would be a huge embarrassment for the government if after, the inquiry, an FIR is registered against the company."

Other firms back down

In similar cases, three other developers have also allegedly cheated the Mumbai Police. The difference is that these three firms have assured that they will rectify the problem, unlike SD Corporation.

- M/s Logistix has agreed to hand over 11 tenements in its project at Yari Road, Versova, against 784 sq m of MHADA land at Yari Road, Versova.

- M/s Richa Developers has agreed to construct a police station free of cost, and hand over 60 tenements at concessional rates to the police department.

- M/s Aditya Enterprises has assured it will hand over eight tenements to the police in building number 54, which is under construction at Tagore Nagar, Vikhroli.

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First published: 16 February 2016, 10:24 IST
Ashwin Aghor @CatchNews

Journalist based in Mumbai.