Saturday, June 18, 2011

Corruption case against ex-Mayor and officials

by G. Anand
VACB finds serious irregularities in building permit
Multi-storied apartment complex at Kowdiar flouting zonal norms
VACB to seek government sanction to prosecute 10 officials

Thiruvananthapuram: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Wednesday said it would seek government sanction to prosecute 10 senior Corporation officials, including the former Mayor J. Chandra, on the charge of bending rules to issue a building permit to a private firm to construct a multi-storied apartment complex at Kowdiar junction in 2004 in violation of zonal regulations.

Those named as accused in the case (VC/1/2010/Southern Range Thiruvananthapuram) also included Abdul Rasheed, managing director of the firm; the architect of the building, several senior town planning officers, building inspectors and a former secretary of the Thiruvananthapuram Development Authority (TRIDA).

The VACB has booked the suspects on the charge of conspiring to abuse their position as public servants to obtain for themselves or for others undue pecuniary advantage under sections 120 (b) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 13 (2) r/w 131 (d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act respectively.

The VACB said it found serious irregularities in the issuance of building permit to construct the 38-m-high apartment complex at the landmark junction.

Town plan

Investigators said the Detailed Town Planning Scheme for the Museum-Kowdiar Avenue unambiguously prohibited the construction of any new building higher than 7.5 m from the road level on the arterial heritage stretch.

The scheme also specified that any construction on the stretch should not be commercial in nature or more than two floors high.

The town planners had listed all the land survey numbers to which the plan applied. The VACB said that all other buildings on the stretch, including the Air India's office, complied with the scheme.

The high rise was constructed on survey number 3650, which fell under the scheme.

In 2004, a committee chaired by the Mayor gave sanction to the firm to construct an apartment complex on the plot in reciprocation for surrendering less than one cent of land to the government for widening the road.

In 2005, Senior Town Planner G. Suresh Kumar reported to the government that the sanction was accorded in violation of existing rules and subsequently the State government ordered the Corporation to revoke the building permit.

Court order

The firm moved the High Court and obtained a stay against the order. Subsequently, the High Court allowed buyers to occupy the constructed flats and directed the Corporation to issue them TC numbers.

The VACB registered its case on a complaint filed by M. Krishnan Nair, a public minded citizen. The prosecution case is that the building was constructed in violation of the provisions of the various sanctioned town planning schemes and master plans.

At the behest of the VACB, government engineers have calculated the pecuniary advantage allegedly gained by the accused by selling the flats.

Deputy Superintend of Police Reji Jacob investigated the case.

Source :