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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Builders bribed officials at all levels: Police chief 5 Lakh Found In Deputy Civic Chief’s Home

Thane: The investigations into the collapse of a sevenstorey building in Mumbra has exposed a nefarious nexus of builders, municipal officials and the police in the area, where crooked developers bribe officials and cops into silence as they erect substandard and unauthorized constructions. 

    Thane police chief K P Raghuvanshi said on Sunday that the builders of the structure that crumbled on Thursday, killing 74 people and injuring 62, had paid off officials, "who abused their power for personal gain". "The amount runs into several lakh of rupees," he said. 
    In raids on the home of the builders on Sunday, said Raghuvanshi, the police re
covered the time schedule of the cash payments made to the authorities at all levels besides land documents and sale agreements of the illegal Shilphata flats. 
GRAFT BUILT UP TO BIG TRAGEDY 
    
Police make three more arrests on Sunday, taking the total to nine 
    In search of the home of builders Salim Shaikh and Jamil Qureshi, police recover the time schedule of the cash payments made to the colluding authorities besides land documents and sale agreements of the illegal Mumbra flats 
    Rs 5 lakh cash and "property documents" recovered from suspended TMC deputy commissioner Deepak Chavan's residence 
Bribes paid to officials on basis of illegal slabs 
    Separately, during a search of the residence of suspended deputy commissioner Deepak Chavan of Thane Municipal Corporation, the police found Rs 5 lakh cash and "property documents". 
    Chavan was arrested on Saturday for alleged "involvement" with the ill-fated building's developers. Apart from him were arrested two of the builders (Siddiqui and Shaikh), assistant municipal commissioner Babasaheb Andhale, NCP corporator from Shilphata Hira Patil and havaldar Jehangir Sayyad of Daighar police station. 
    Taking the tally to nine on Sunday, the police arrested senior TMC clerk Kisan Madke, building materials supplier Afroz Ansari and agent Sayyad Patel. All the accused were produced in a Thane court and remanded in police custody till April 20. They have been booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder, among other things. If proved guilty, they can be punished with life imprisonment. 
    Meanwhile, the NCP suspended Patil from the party. 
    According to several sources, the developers paid bribes as per different measures. To the colluding civic officials and elected representatives, money was given for every concrete slab added to the illegal structure. To the former was allegedly given Rs 1.50-2 lakh and to the latter Rs 50,000. The conspiring policemen were, meanwhile, paid Rs 50,000 for each illegal tenement, said sources. 
    Besides the construction that crumpled last week, Siddiqui and Shaikh built two other seven-storey illegal buildings on a three-acre plot, L u ck y C o m p o u n d , at Shilphata. It is estimated that around 100 seven- to 10-storey illegal buildings are standing in Shilpata area, in spite of repeated complaints by citizen-activist Mangal Patil to the civic authorities. 
    "Preliminary inquiry reveals it is an organized network. The documents recovered from the builders' house gives details of the payments made to all the accused," said Raghuvanshi. Raids on the residences of other accused also threw up "incriminating documents," said sources. 
    "The arrest operation (on Saturday) was conducted 
swiftly. The NCP corporator (Patil) was participating in a news channel debate at Shilphata. As soon as the programme was over he was asked by crime branch officials to come to the headquarters for a meeting. Unaware of their intentions, Patil went to the office and was declared arrested," an official said. 
    Raghuvanshi said more arrests are likely to be made soon. The police are searching for five partners of the builders who were also involved in the racket. Also, they are looking into the role of MSEB officials who reportedly gave a 120-gauge electric cable to the illegal building. 

    "The MSEB's defence could be that as power comes under essential commodites it cannot refuse connections. However, that's half the truth. The law says that a builder has to submit documents such as the building plan, commencement certificate, PAN card of the builder and his partners and a written application on the firms' letterhead giving details about the project. It is unlikely the norms were followed and yet the building got a power connection," said a local. 
    The police commissioner, when asked if the accused men could also be booked under the stringent MCOCA, said that though the accused were working as an organized cartel, MCOCA law is applicable on habitual offenders who have served jail term before.


    Preliminary inquiry reveals that it is an organized network. The documents recovered from the builders' house give details of the payments made to all the accused, who abused their official power for personal gain. 
K P Raghuvanshi | THANE POLICE COMMISSIONER


Deepak Chavan, TMC deputy civic chief (L) & NCP corporator from Shilphata Hira Patil (R)


TOUGH TALK: Thane police chief K P Raghuvanshi said officials abused their power for personal gain

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