Saturday, 18 May 2013

Mumbai - The City Of Scams!

Coalgate, Railgate; we have become so used to these terms lately. Wherever you see, in newspapers, on TV and radio, people are talking about some or the other scam. Recent times have been very turbulent for the country, with many high level scams worth thousands of crores of rupees being exposed. So we decided to have a look at some of the scams that hit our very own city in the recent years. Here is a list of few of these scams! Let us know what you think about them.

Mumbai District Central Co-operative Bank scam

We have always stayed away from co-operative banks, as we could never trust them in terms of their governance. And we stand vindicated, thanks to this particular scam! In April, this year, news broke out that 22 credit societies have been accused of duping the Mumbai Disctrict Central Co-operative Bank of around 60 crore rupees!

How did they do it? Apparently the perpetrators of this scam, carried out over a period of 5 years from 2006 to 2011, forged documents of almost 400 members to avail loans amounting to approximately 88.49 crores! And this fraud was uncovered only after these thieves were unable to pay back 61 crores of the loan amount to the bank.

Few of the credit societies involved were – Ashray Co-operative Credit Society and Jeevhala Co-operative Credit Society.  

Traffic Booth Scam

Social activist Indur Chhugani, in 2007, filed a PIL in the Mumbai High Court seeking investigation into an alleged scam worth Rs. 1200 crores involving the Mumbai Police, the BMC and a private advertising company by the name Clear Channel Mumbai Pvt Ltd.
The said advertising company was given the rights to build traffic booths across the city which could then be used for advertising purposes. The PIL claimed that these booths generated around Rs. 10 crores in revenue (advertisement costs at these booths ranged from 60,000 to 3 lakhs a month) and the entire sum was pocketed by the advertising company and corrupt police officials. Not a single dime reached the government quarters.

The PIL further claimed that the Police and BMC favoured the said advertising company as no tenders were invited for this project. Further it was also observed that these booths were rarely used by the policemen and were just a ploy to make advertising revenue.

In 2011, the High Court scrapped the project.

Slum Rehabilitation Scheme Scam

The Slum Rehabilitation Scheme run by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) was conceptualized with the noble intentions of providing free homes to the millions of slum dwellers of Mumbai. However, over a period of time the scheme and the SRA got embroiled in a number of controversies.

Under the scheme the builders had to give tenements to all slum dwellers free of cost and in return the builder got extra FSI which he could sell at market rates. Most of the builders would fraudulently increase the number of slum dwellers and bag extra FSI. This allowed them to build more apartments and sell them at market rates. In a number of cases BMC or SRA officials were the benefactors of these extra apartments.
A major example of this scam was 2010 expose of the Prabhadevi Co-operative housing society developed under scheme, wherein the builder fraudulently increased the number of tenants to bag extra FSI, value of which was calculated to around 4,500 crores back then!

Adarsh Housing Society Scam

Adarsh is arguably the biggest scam the city has seen in recent times. The scam involved high ranking officials in the Army, the BMC and the State government. Then chief minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan, had to resign from his post as he was one of the accused in the scam.

Land to develop the Adarsh housing society was handed over in 2000 and this project was meant for the widows of Kargil war. However, officials in the army and state government had other, not so charitable ideas. The Adarsh project plan was modified to accommodate the greed of many people. What was meant to be a 6 storey building, ended up being a 100 metre tall tower. Regulations like CRZ were violated, environmental clearances and NOC’s were obtained through manipulations. In the end the people for whom it was meant were pushed out and high ranking army officers and politicians ended up gobbling all the flats in the building.

The biggest learning of this saga was that people at influential posts within the system could collude, manipulate the system and exploit public property for their personal gains so easily!

Railway Bribery Scam

The Railway Bribery Scam has its roots in Mumbai, as it was the GM Western Railway, Mr. Mahesh Kumar who bribed the nephew of erstwhile Railways Minister Pawan Bansal. Mr. Kumar was caught paying a bribe of Rs. 90 Lakh to Bansal’s nephew, while the total amount committed was Rs. 10 Crore! 10 crores might sound small, compared to 2G and Coalgate estimations, but it was significant enough for the opposition parties to stall the functioning of the parliament and demand resignation of PM Manmohan Singh. The congress spent jittery nights on this issue till finally they convinced Mr. Bansal to resign from his post. The PM’s image took a lot of beating as Bansal was one of his close aides.

We were at a meeting of RTI activists a few days ago and one of the members claimed that the former GM had been involved in many other cases of wrong doings earlier also, but no action was taken against him yet. We guess justice finally caught up with him!

-The Wandering Mumbaikar

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