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WHY IS NMMC HELPLESS TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST RAHEJA BUILDERS FOR ILLEGALLY ACQUIRING THREE HOLDING PONDS?

k-raheja-1NMTV News had first aired the report on K Raheja Builder Group illegally acquiring three holdings ponds in Navi Mumbai in April this year. These holdings ponds that are classified as government lands admeasure 17000 sq. meters and have a minimum market value of Rs. 30 Crores. Since April, the NMMC is assuring to take action against in the matter but it’s been over 5 months and yet NMMC sits as mute spectators. So why is NMMC helpless to take action against Raheja Builders for illegally acquiring three holdings ponds? “NMTV EXPOSE – APRIL 2008” In April 2008, NMTV News had exposed how K Raheja had bought Herdillia and Philips to convert them into commercial complexes. While that had nothing illegal, accusations surfaced when our camera caught the builder group allegedly illegally acquiring three NMMC holdings ponds. On the Herdillia pond, there are two holding ponds admeasuring 16000 sq. meters. On the other hand, the Philips plot has a pond admeasuring 1000 sq. mt. These holding ponds have a clear mention in the NMMC Environment Report. But even as K Raheja Group is illegally filling all the three holding ponds, NMMC was not taking any action. What came as a shock was that the while the Philips pond has been completely filled, at the Herdillia sight, one could see a NMMC board specifying the details of the ponds. Villagers of Kuksheth village confirmed that the existence of a holding pond here. At the K Raheja Office at Bandra Kurla Complex, no one from the builder group was willing to meet us on hearing the subject. While their behavior was not surprising, the attitude of local government bodies was unfortunate and disturbing. At the MIDC Office, officials refused to speak on camera but off it showed us the plans submitted by the K Raheja Group for approval to begin construction at the site. These development plans drawings clearly show ponds. On the other hand at NMMC, the officer in charge DMC N N Alhat again refused to speak to us on camera but assured that NMMC would take action if the builder group was illegally acquiring the holding ponds. It has been over 5 months to the issue and even today, NMMC has taken no action in the matter. This week after the NMMC Standing Committee meeting, we met Commissioner Vijay Nahata who refused to speak on the subject but assured to talk to us once he studied the case in a few days. He asked his DMC N N Alhat to give us the information on the action being taken by NMMC till then. “NMTV EXPOSE – SEPTEMBER 2008” However, after three days when we met DMC N N Alhat, he again refused to speak on camera saying that the MIDC never handed over the holding ponds to NMMC. However the CAG report exposes that this is a lie. For NMMC for two consecutive years has been collecting a state grant for fishing on the holding pond, not to forget that these ponds figure in the NMMC Environment Report for the last 13 years. When we pointed that if the holding ponds belonged to MIDC, why did NMMC collect revenue on this – N N Alhat changed his stance and said that the Philips pond is still under NMMC while his office cannot find the Herdillia ponds files. Our attempts to repeatedly meet NMMC on the issue show that they are helpless and reluctant to take action against the mighty and influential Raheja Group even though this means loosing three holding ponds. Such negligence towards environment will prove to be disastrous at a time when several states have become victims to floods. And there can be but two reasons for NMMC helplessness to take action against the Raheja Group for illegally acquiring three holding ponds – one that wither they do not care about the holding ponds or two that massive corruption has won over calls of duty. With Rajeev Mishra, Zeba Warsia for NMTV News.

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