The ED has summoned Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday for questioning in a money laundering probe linked to the re-development of Mumbai’s ‘Patra Chawl’. The ED probe revolves around the Sena leader, along with his wife and some close associates.
Siddharth Nagar, popularly known as Patra Chawl, is located in the northern Mumbai suburb of Goregaon. It had a total of 672 houses, spread over an area of 47 acres.
In 2008, the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) undertook the redevelopment project and gave the contract to Guru Ashish Construction Private Limited (GACPL) to rehabilitate 672 tenants and to redevelop the locality.
An agreement between GACPL, MHADA and the tenants’ society was signed back then. It has been 14 years since then, and the people of the area continue to wait for their homes.
According to the tripartite agreement, GACPL was to provide flats to 672 tenants of Patra Chawl, develop flats for MHADA, and sell the remaining area to private developers.
However, the ED claims that Pravin Raut, a close associate of Sanjay Raut, and the other associates of GACPL misled MHADA, and sold the floor space index (FSI) to nine private developers, collecting Rs 901.79 crore, without constructing either the rehab portion for the 672 displaced tenants, or the MHADA portion.
Subsequently, GACPL launched a project called Meadows, and took the booking amount of around Rs 138 crore from flat buyers. The ED has alleged that the total proceeds of the crime generated by Guru Ashish Constructions through these “illegal activities” amount to Rs 1,039.79 crore.
Guru Ashish is a subsidiary company of the Housing Development Infrastructure Ltd. (HDIL). HDIL is under investigation by the ED and few other agencies in connection with the about Rs 4,300 crore alleged fraud at the Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative (PMC) Bank.
The agency has claimed that Pravin Raut received Rs 100 crore from real estate company HDIL, and “diverted” it to various accounts of “his close associates, family member, his business entities”, including the family of Sanjay Raut.
The ED has alleged that in 2010, Rs 83 lakh, which was part of the proceeds of crime, was transferred to Sanjay Raut’s wife Varsha Raut, who used the money to buy a flat in Dadar.
Apart from this, at least eight plots of land were purchased at Kihim beach at Alibaug in Maharashtra in the name of Varsha Raut and Swapna Patkar, the ED has alleged.
As per the agreement, the developer had to pay rent to all 672 tenants every month till the completion of the project. However, the rent was paid only till 2014-15. The tenants then started complaining about the non-payment of rent, and the delay in the completion of the project.
Due to the non-payment of rent, delay, and the irregularities by the developer, MHADA issued a termination notice to the developer on January 12, 2018. Against this notice, nine developers who had bought FSI from GACL, filed a suit in the Bombay High Court. The redevelopment project was stalled, leaving 672 tenants in the lurch.