Friday, 1 May 2015

Maharashtra Cooperation Department ignores dozens of Redevelopment Complaints

1st May, 2015, Mumbai: Many strangers call me every week from different parts of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane etc., tell me how their society is being herded by some builder towards redevelopment, and take some free advice about how to proceed further in their battle. Everywhere, the same story is being acted out: builders have pocketed the office-bearers by giving them inducements, and with their active cooperation, are in the process of seizing control of the entire property. Some general body members act like stooges of the office-bearers, and shout down the persons who ask questions at society meetings. But the bulk of general body members are like sheep being herded to the slaughterhouse; they are deeply worried, but they are afraid to take a stand at any given point of time.

Every week, Maharashtra's cooperation department receives a dozen complaint letters from aggrieved society members, pleading for action against the office-bearers and the builders, who are subverting the due process and taking short-cuts. The result? Inaction. The reason for the cooperation department's inaction is common knowledge: for attending a single crucial Special General Body Meeting where the members' consent for a particular redeveloper is videographed. cooperation department officials routinely get bribes of several lakh rupees, calculated at the rate of Rs 30,000/- per flat, or more. This money goes "right to the top", as always. So these officials sign a report stating that all is well. Complaints and RTI applications are stonewalled.




Every effort is made to silence the voices of dissenters and questioners. Most dissenters/questioners have genuine concerns, which the society's office-bears and cooperation development official insist on ignoring and suppressing. Nowhere have I found that the questioner is trying to extract a pound of flesh from the builder.

Reproduced below is one such cry in the wilderness -- a letter written by a gentleman I have known for a couple of years, who has been fighting a losing battle to exercise his rights over his own property. (I have changed all the names and details to protect the identity of the persons concerned.)

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January 02, 2015

By Speed Post

The Deputy Registrar of Cooperative Societies, M-Ward
2nd Floor, Konkan Bhavan, Belapur, Navi Mumbai
Mumbai 400614

Complaint: Jaimin Towers CHS Ltd, re: Unlawful suppression of my right to express my views at the videographed SGBM of 16/12/14 for selection of developer in the presence of your Authorised Representative

Dear Sir,

In my letter to you dated 06/12/14, I had explained why the SGBM scheduled on 16/12/14 to select a developer was illegal and void, and had requested you to declare it as such. Inspite of it, the said SGBM was held.

Serious shortcomings of the proceedings:
  • Video shooting partly done by a society member. When the meeting commenced at 7.50 p.m. the official video photographer had not arrived. Mr Mahadik, a society member, began shooting the proceedings using his personal video camera. The official videographer arrived well past 8 p.m. He was evidently not briefed and so began shooting at random.
  • Your representative Mr Padshah, is a junior-grade Clerk in your office (as per my understanding). Do you normally depute such junior persons for the responsible task of conducting this crucial meeting? Is this appropriate?
  • Illegal Participation. As per the Maharashtra Government Directive on Redevelopment of 03/01/09, other than formal members, only the Authorised Representative of the Registrar and the representatives of the shortlisted developers are allowed to be attend the SGBM for the selection of developer. As against this, the PMC Mr Jayantilal Karnik not only participated in the the SGBM, but in fact presided over it and dictated the proceedings. The Chairman of the Society, though present on the dais, virtually took a backseat throughout the proceedings.
  • Half-truths and untruths: The PMC first directed the Secretary to deliver his opening remarks. It was full of untruthful statements. The PMC spoke next. He asserted that he had “explained” to members the so-called “Revised Offers” received from the developers. This is untrue, as evident from my letter to you dated 06/12/14.
  • Selection rigged. As explained in my earlier letters to you, the entire selection process was rigged at every stage through such half-truths and untruths. There were signs of rigging even at the SGBM of 16/12/14. The PMC specifically asked Mr D'Mello, an MC member, to propose the name of the builder of his choice. Not surprisingly, he mentioned “Tmex Infra Services”, the contractor sought to be favoured by the MC-PMC combine. The Treasurer sprang to his feet and seconded it and up went the hands of all the MC members in support! There was no discussion or debate, and not even a nominal reading of the finalised terms and conditions offered. Any impartial observer would have concluded that it was all set up.
  • PMC’s conflict of interest. The PMC is simultaneously the architect in one of the ongoing redevelopment projects of Tmex Infra Services. Given the conflict of interest, it was unlawful for the PMC to have presided over the meeting and exercised undue influence in the selection of the developer.
  • Contractors were absent! Not even a single contractor/redeveloper out of the five whose offers were the main subject matter of the SGBM, were present. Even their authorized representatives were not present. This clearly points to “developer-fixing”. Please ask yourself whether anybody in the normal world would select a contractor for a multi-crore rupee project when the contractor or his representative is not present at the selection meeting? (Such absence happens only when the contractors knows the outcome of the meeting in advance!)
  • Dual procedure followed for selection of developer. The PMC gave me a printed ballot paper for the selection. This was not given to the other members present, who voted by a show of hands. However, I did not wish to lend legitimacy to an illegal and void SGBM and so refrained from casting my vote. I told the PMC as much and clarified that there was no question of my accepting, let alone choosing from, the fraudulent “Comparison Chart of Revised Offers” sought to be thrust on me by the MC in collusion with the PMC.
  • Obstructing me from speaking to the camera. To explain my views and concerns in this regard, and to substantiate my stand, I requested to be allowed to say my piece to camera. At this, the MC members shouted me down saying they did not want to listen to anything that I had to say, and that I had no right to voice the basis for my dissent. I pointed out that this conduct of the MC members was the norm at almost all the earlier SGBMs held in connection with redevelopment and had never allowed me to voice my concerns and views. As a matter of fact, the MC members never tired of reminding me openly at the SGBMs that I should be extremely grateful to them for allowing me to be present at these meetings! Predictably, the PMC, joined the chorus of the MC members. As a last resort, I appealed to your representative, Mr Padshah, to make the PMC and the MC members see reason and allow me to say my piece to camera without hindrance. But even Mr Devre ganged up with the PMC and the MC members, and tried browbeating me into submission. The MC members continuously shouted to drown my voice in the commotion. and Mr Padshah did absolutely nothing to prevent them.
  • Instigated by the PMC, Mr Padshah threatened adverse notings. And when I kept beseeching Mr Padshah to calm down the shouting brigade so that what I had to say could get recorded clearly, Mr Padshah warned me that as an observer, he would make adverse remarks against me in his report if I persisted with my request -- a classic instance of victimising the victim!
  • Finally, Mr Padshah phoned and consulted someone on his mobile whether I should be allowed to say my piece to camera. and then condescendingly told me to hurry up and get over with what I had to say quickly saying he was getting “unduly delayed”. Realising that I was not the one to give up so easily, the PMC, in a malafide exercise of the Chair’s authority, slyly slipped in the next item on the Agenda, viz., “To authorize the Managing Committee to complete the procedure for redevelopment”.
  • Your representative walked away from his duty and responsibility. Mr Padshah got up and walked out of the meeting without even as much as the leave of the Chair, abandoning the meeting half-way and shirking his responsibility to be present at the meeting and observe the entire proceedings as required by the Maharashtra Government Directive on Redevelopment dated 03/01/09.

In view of the above, I earnestly appeal to you to
  1. Launch a probe into the matter immediately to establish the facts and initiate necessary action. This may not take much time as the video recordings of the proceedings (done partly by Mr Mahadik and partly by the videographer) will reveal the facts outlined above.
  2. NOT to grant permission to the MC of the Society to proceed with the redevelopment process
  3. Please send me a copy of all your further correspondence with the Society.
Considering the serious and urgent nature of this complaint, I would request you to reply to this letter within 7 days of its receipt.

Thanking you
Yours sincerely

Deven P Desai

Flat No.6, Jaimin Towers Cooperative Housing Society, CPT Road No.2, Ghatkopar, Mumbai 400089

Copy to: The District Deputy Registrar of Co-op. Societies, DDR-II, Eastern Suburbs, Room No.201, 2nd Floor, Konkan Bhavan, Belapur, Navi Mumbai, Mumbai 400614






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