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Benefits & exemptions may hold key to collusion probe, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate

Benefits & exemptions may hold key to collusion probe, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate
NOIDA: The Noida Authority made frequent changes to its rulebook between 2004 and 2012, when most housing projects were approved in the NCR city, and there’s a randomness about benefits and exemptions granted to real estate developers, officials said on Tuesday as a stocktaking of the chronology of decisions in that period raised many eyebrows.

Noida Authority officials shared details of five notifications pertaining to changes in building regulations and purchasable floor area ratio (FAR), among others, with the UP government’s four-member special investigation team (SIT), which has been tasked with fixing responsibility after the Supreme Court on August 31 ordered the prosecution of erring officials and the demolition of Supertech’s Emerald Court twin towers, pointing to collusion between Noida officials and the developer.

“We were unable to understand what yardstick has been used while doling out benefits and exemptions,” said a senior officer with Noida’s planning division.

“It appears that benefits and exemptions were offered according to the revised rules but in an arbitrary manner while violations were ignored or overlooked.”

During the course of approvals granted to the Supertech group to revise the original plan for its twin towers, resulting in the project’s height being increased twice to 40 floors eventually, the Noida Authority revised its building regulations twice.

Sources said when the Emerald Court allotment was originally made in 2004, the Building Rules of 1986 were applicable. In June 2006, and again in November 2010, the Building Rules were revised.

The revised plans for the twin towers were cleared in December 2006, November 2009 and March 2012.

Sources said it had also been found that Aster 2, which is the closest Emerald Court building to the twin towers, had been awarded a completion certificate in April 2008. Yet, the construction of a space frame between it and Apex in June 2012 was allowed without the RWA being informed.

Broadly, the probe report into collusion is likely to be divided into three sections — the period between November 2004 and November 2009, the period right after, up to December 2012, before the RWA moved the Allahabad high court, and another one till this August.

Though some names will be provided to the state government by Thursday evening, which is the deadline to wrap up the probe, the SIT can ask for more time to ascertain the role of other officials.

The SIT is also likely to question the former and present Noida employees and record their statements. On Wednesday, SIT members are likely to visit the twin towers and speak to members of the Emerald Court RWA.

The SIT comprises Sanjiv Mittal, who heads it, additional chief secretary (rural development) Manoj Singh, additional director general of Meerut zone Rajeev Sabharwal and chief town and country planner Anoop Srivastava.

Noida CEO Ritu Maheshwari, additional CEO Neha Sharma, officer on special duty of group housing Avinash Tripathi and general manager of the planning section Ishtiyaq Ahmed along with senior planning manager Vaibhav Gupta were present during the morning meeting with the SIT.

The opinion of Srivastava will be important in determining the culpability of the Authority officials.


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Written by Realty Beat

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