Thursday, 25 February 2016

Roadside Meeting of RNA Builders' Victims held near Versova, Andheri West

Mumbai, 25th February, 2016: Common people rarely turn up in good numbers to openly speak out against powerful builders, and so it was an unusual sight that about 200 rich and poor persons aggrieved by RNA Corp (owned by late Anil Aggarwal, Gokul Aggarwal, Anubhav Aggarwal and Saranga Aggarwal) stage a roadside gathering near Versova, Andheri West, to speak out against RNA Builders. In this unusual gathering on the morning of Sunday, 21st February, 2016, the well-to-do persons were aggrieved buyers who had booked flats in various RNA projects such as RNA Exotica in Oshiwara, and RNA Palazzo and RNA Grande in Kandivali. The poorer participants were those dishoused and dispossessed by RNA's SRA or MHADA redevelopment projects. Many in the gathering boldly voiced their grievances before a handheld video camera, knowing that every word that they said was being recorded for publishing in the public domain. A major chunk of the gathering, who had already formed associations for their RNA projects, floated the idea of forming an RNA Victims Federation and exchanged contact addresses.

Of the 200 persons, about half were from Aramnagar in Versova, over which the possibility of going under redevelopment by RNA builders looms large, like a dark cloud. These residents of Aramnagar were consumed by their own internal politics and internal quarrels sown by the builder. The other 100 persons were from RNA projects in different parts of Mumbai, and managed to speak in a clearer voice, which is captured in the below videos.

These eleven short videos show what RNA's victims said at the roadside meeting.

Highlights of the meeting:

a) Thousands of people who booked flats in RNA Corp. projects in Goregaon, Kandivali, and Project affected people from Andheri, Ghatkopar, Malad, Worli Wadala, Sewri, Chembur, Mira Road etc., and got a registered agreement or an allotment letter, were awaiting possession of their flats in 2012-13. But then they were informed that these projects -- RNA Exotica, RNA Palazzo, RNA Grande, RNA Metropolis, etc. would be delivered about two years later. Those two years came and went in 2014-15, but the possession date is nowhere in sight even today. Meanwhile, many of these customers have been sent notices asking for payment of another big chunk of money, although most of them have paid about 75 percent of the total flat value, without any assurance or commitment from the builders' side about when their flats will be delivered to them.

b) Over and above late delivery, there are multiple grievances for those who booked a flat in RNA Exotica. The ceiling height of floors above 20th floor have reportedly been changed without the buyer's consent. Buyers in RNA Exotica, who had paid a floor-rise premium for a very high-rise flat (such as 41st floor) may now have to settle for a much lower floor, as the building hasn't got permission to go over 36th floor. Also, the buyers were not informed of a PAP building being built in the front side of the same compound, abutting A-wing of RNA Exotica; how many premium flat buyers want to share their residential plot with rehab-component slum dwellers and project-affected people? Further, it is questionable whether RNA Exotica will ever get an Occupation Certificate, as the builders are reportedly converting some mandatory refuge areas into habitable flats and selling them.

c) Some investors are feeling jittery because RNA Corp has of late defaulted in repayment of bank loans, resulting in their mortgaged collateral being auctioned for debt recovery. After the demise of Anil Aggarwal in May 2014, sons Anubhav and Gokul Aggarwal seem to be finding it tough to keep the company''s fortunes afloat... or so it appears! The question in the minds of investors who have already paid 75 percent or more of the total consideration for their flat, and are now being sent notices by the builder to pay further installments is: Are our funds safe in the less-experienced hands of Gokul and Anubhav Aggarwal?

d) Many of these aggrieved investors have formed project-wise associations and are now considering forming a federation of RNA projects across the city. The idea of the "RNA Victims Federation” including people from across the city, including western and eastern suburbs, may take root if enough persons take initiatives.

e) The aggrieved flat purchasers and original tenants/ home owners in redevelopment projects discussed the idea of approaching Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in large numbers to discuss their problem, and asking for some actions and ultimatums against RNA, such as halting further project clearances. They also discussed filing Criminal / Civil Petition in High Court. Some have already filed complaints with EOW and are waiting for FIR to be registered.

f) From Mira Road to Walkeshwar, there must be five to six thousand victims of RNA builders, reckons activist Sulaiman Bhimani, who has been exposing RNA's various scams for the last seven years. It is proposed that all these victims come together -- at least one member per flat -- and put pressure on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to take cognizance of RNA's habitual defaults.

g) Many of those who booked flats in RNA projects have discovered that their purchase agreements actually do not specify a date for delivery of the flats. And now they are wondering whether they are responsible for their own misery! If they go to court saying that RNA builders defaulted by not giving them possession of their flats in 2012-13 as promised, will they be rebuffed because they signed a faulty agreement? But the answer that emerged was that the builder was liable and not the consumers who signed the cleverly-worded agreements under duress, after having paid lakhs of rupees for booking. Also, such faulty documents which did not contain all the conditions necessary for safeguarding both the parties, could be rectified according to due process of law.

h) Since builder is charging you 18% interest if you delay making payment, he should also pay interest at 18% of the value of the flat for delay in delivery of possession by one year. Flat owners are entitled to move the consumer forum to seek compensation for delay in delivery of possession by the builder. Delay in possession recently cost this Navi Mumbai builder Rs 64.84 lakhs!

i) Project-affected persons (PAPs) who are aggrieved by RNA Corp's unlawful redevelopment may be able to hit back by getting the bank loans extended to investors cancelled by the banks. For instance, if bankers have connived with RNA builders to approve loans for 15th floor flats in an RNA building that has only 10 floors, may file a complaint to the bank's higher-ups and get the loans cancelled. State Bank Of India (SBI) is reported to have cancelled such a loan following a complaint.

j) The unholy nexus between RNA builders and Mumbai Municipal Corporation (MCGM) has resulted in many project affected persons, home-owners and tenants in RNA's redevelopment projects being dispossessed of their rights, and running helplessly from pillar-to-post for justice. Judiciary provides reliefs only sometimes, not always, but these individuals have to fight many legal battles extending over years and decades for such reliefs.

k) Although 179 out of 322 tenants of Azadnagar BMC chawls in Wadala opposed RNA Corp entering the scene as redevelopers, RNA somehow managed to sign an agreement with proxy signatories and take over the project. The tenants, who had been resettled there in 1944 after the blast in docks near Masjid Bunder, have been fighting a legal battle since in 2001. Their houses were demolished in the middle of the night without giving any time or alternate accommodation till the consent terms were signed before Bombay High Court.

l) A woman affected by RNA's illegal Redevelopment activities in Chembur disclosed how RNA builders and their men cleverly sowed dissent among the managing committee members to keep them divided. More significantly, she revealed how, by making political heavyweight Narayan Rane the chairman of the defunct local union, RNA Corp has largely silenced the residents.

m) Another woman who was part of the managing committee of her BMC chawl in Sewri, was dishoused and dispossessed from even basic membership of the cooperative housing society. She talked about her 11-year struggle with RNA Corp, BMC for securing her basic human rights, which she was being continually denied. She revealed how the residents of this “baithi chawl” i.e. old and settled chawl, were forced to live on the roads after demolition of their chawl. She also pointed out how RNA illegally exploited the FSI and TDR component of the adjoining municipal school and MCGM playground.

For contact details of speakers seen in the videos, call Sulaiman Bhimani 9323642081.

Issued in Public Interest by
Krishnaraj Rao

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Is RNA Corp using a Cheat-Code, or is this builder bankrupt?

Mumbai, 10th February, 2016, Mumbai: So what is going on with RNA Builders? Back in December 2013, those who had purchased flats in RNA Grande, Kandivali West, must have been quite impressed by this notice issued by RNA Universal, signed by Anil Aggarwal himself, proclaiming that flat buyers would be given possession for interior decoration and furniture work in October 2014, subject to force majeure. The passing away of Anil Aggarwal in May 2014 from the complications of bariatric surgery must indeed have been a “force majeure”, because the project is very far from complete, and hundreds of flat purchasers have become “Project Affected People”. It's an old story; shit happens, and it keeps happening in Mumbai. 

So, is RNA Corp the victim of a financial crisis? Or is it a willful defaulter and habitual truant? This auction notice says that RNA Corporate Park owes State Bank of India Rs 61.50 crore, and to realize this amount, parcels of land in Palghar district owned by RNA Corp Pvt. Ltd. will be auctioned. (If you have super-deep pockets and wish to bid in the auction, 23rd February 2016 is the last date for submitting your request letter of participation). But knowledgeable insiders think that SBI has joined the long list of RNA Corp's victims, because the land being auctioned is barely worth even Rs 40 crore, and so Anil's sons Anubhav and Gokul Aggarwal are saving over Rs 21 crore by being willful defaulters and letting the bank take a hit. Anil Aggarwal was a dab hand at fooling the government and the public, and he will now be laughing from the grave as his sons follow in his footsteps, they allege. It certainly looks like they could be right!

The art of selling an 18th floor flat in a 16-storey building is certainly something that the Aggarwals seem to excel at. Even Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis isn't surprised! In October 2015, RNA Corp spent crores on this front-page cover advert in prominent national dailies, showing their closeness to the Maharashtra Chief Minister and the Mira Bhayendar politicos. Barely three months later, in January 2016, the land-grabbing by RNA in Mira-Bhayendar was discovered, and a Stop Work Notice was issued by the District Collector. But did the Chief Minister blush? Nope, he didn't bat an eyelid! Fadnavis must have been thinking, “The Aggarwals made a fool of me, so what's new? It's all right, business-as-usual, because they have been making fools of Maharashtra government for a long time”.

The late Anil Aggarwal has frequently given the babaji-ka-thullu to the administration in Maharashtra, and in return, they have kept giving him fresh lifelines. Many powerful people keep raising their voices against RNA, to no avail. A lesser business group would have fled in shame from the construction industry, but RNA Corp and its group companies just keep marching on. Hats off to them!

SBI has joined the long list of RNA Corp's victims, because the land being auctioned is barely worth even Rs 40 crore, and so Anil's sons Anubhav and Gokul Aggarwal are saving over Rs 21 crore by being willful defaulters and letting the bank take a hit. Anil Aggarwal was a dab hand at fooling the government and the public, and he will now be laughing from the grave as his sons follow in his footsteps.
Some instances of when people and authorities pinpointed RNA's misdoings:
  1. Dr. Bharati Lavekar, BJP MLA from Versova, wrote this letter to CM Fadnavis last week, requesting him to cancel the agreement of Aram Nagar redevelopment project awarded to RNA by MHADA. She wrote that the tenants of Aram Nagar were kept in dark and the project would only benefit only RNA, and not tenants. The CM noted in red ink on the letter that VP MHADA should stay the redevelopment process and examine the issues.

  2. The SRA scheme was initiated by the government to give a better quality of life to slumdwellers by moving them into well-constructed buildings. But the developer has taken undue advantage of this scheme for the last 12 years and is causing harassment to the Project Affected Persons (PAPs),” wrote Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Athawale in this letter to Fadnavis in February 2015. In this letter, Athawale complained that although RNA builders had undertaken the redevelopment of Parishram SRA Cooperative Housing Society in Bandra East in 2002, it had completely stopped the construction work for the last two years, stopped paying rent to the displaced persons, and bounced the cheques issued to them. Although RNA was granted Commencement Certificate (CC) in 2004, it delayed construction by continually changing the plans of the sale-component for its undue advantage. As per a CAG report and as per the SRA Act, appropriate action has to be taken against the developer, Athawale said. After the demise of Anil Agarwal, his company was required to submit fresh Annexure-3 (financial capability report), or the developer should be changed by SRA, Athawale pointed out. “The developer has constructed A1 and A2 buildings in which the height of the individual flats is less than 8 ft 3 inches. The developer was given notice to demolish the same. After that, the same buildings were regularized.” said Athawale, pointing out the collusion of the administration with Anil Aggarwal. “The developer has illegally incorporated into his project the areas occupied by shop owners who are not within the scope of the SRA scheme. Also, he has illegally incorporated open plot of market admeasuring 2300 sq. metres. The developer has included 56 bogus Project Affected Persons (PAPs) supported by bogus documents. For the last 10 years, many people were accommodated in the transit camp, in individual units admeasuring around 100 square feet, forcing the families to live in cramped conditions and raising the probability of accidents. An FIR was registered against the builders for various MRTP violations. The offences were explained in a letter to the then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan by project affected persons
  3. Bombay High Court passed an order against GA Builders, an RNA group entity, on 21st September 2015 for not paying rent to tenants and not getting Occupation Certificate (OC). GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. is owned by Gokul Anilkumar Aggarwal, Anubhav Anilkumar Aggarwal and Saranga Anil Aggarwal. The order in “Manjula S. Chauhan V/s. GA Builders Pvt. Ltd. and Others” panned the builder for not getting Occupation Certificate, not paying transit rent and also breach of undertaking given to the court. But this order reveals only the tip of the iceberg; the society in question, namely GA Ganga Sagar CHS of Ghatkopar East, is so full of fraud, forgery and violations committed by GA Builders in collusion with the society's office bearers, that this building can never hope to get MCGM's occupation certificate. There are many criminal and civil suits pending in Metropolitan Court and High court pending in this case.

  4. East & West Builders (RNA Group) with the connivance of MCGM and SRA officials, illegally incorporated the Shastrinagar Municipal Market, Bandra East, and its open plot into an SRA scheme, causing MCGM an estimated loss of over Rs 150 crore. Thirteen shop owners led by Prabhakar M Shetty wrote a letter to CM Devendra Fadnavis in January 2015, explaining their plight. The letter says that in 2012, the developer demolished six shops completely and 21 shops partially, reducing their length by 12 feet and leaving only five feet. The shopkeepers were promised that they would be accommodated in the newly constructed building within six months. But till date, the construction work had not commenced, nor were they given any rent for alternative accommodation. In fact, after giving cheques to the shopkeepers, the builder fraudulently issued stop-payment instructions. All the shopkeepers' efforts to contact the developer on phone and in person have been futile. Although the developer has received IOA and CC as early as 2004, the A4 building that is supposed to be constructed for shop-owners of municipal market has not been started. The site for A4 building is currently an open plot without any obstructions or encumbrances, but the work is at a complete standstill. 

  5. In January 2012, MCGM itself had red-flagged RNA with this show-cause notice. Assistant Commissioner (Estates), MCGM, wrote to RNA's East & West Builders: “Whereas the Pariwar Safalya Cooperative Housing Society formed by the tenants on the subject property have appointed you as the developer for the redevelopment of the property; Whereas your architect has submitted the proposal for redevelopment of above property, the same was approved by Improvement Committee/Corporation under the Resolution no. 174 dated 7th Feb 2005 and No. 113 dated 10th February 2005 respectively, as per the total capitalized value amounting to Rs 29,02,91,270/- in the scheme is required to be paid by you to MCGM; Whereas you were required to complete the project within three years and also to pay remaining 90% capitalized value to MCGM before Occupation Certificate to sale component; Whereas you have failed to complete the project till date as the project completion period is already over on 17th March 2010 and therefore cost delay for payment 90% capitalized value to the MCGM till this date; Whereas it is a failure on your part to complete the project within stipulated period which is causing loss of revenue to the MCGM and hardship to the tenants residing in the old buildings who had consented for this development as per the clause in the tripartite agreement, the project period is fixed as three years from the date of issuance of the commencement certificate by Building Proposal Department. The project period can be extended by the Municipal Corporation for the reason of delay state in your reply letter subject to your consent and payment of capitalized value on revised 20:60:20 basis of approval vide ICR 175 dated 4th February 2009 and CR/1259 dated 9th February 2009 respectively; This office has received orders from Additional Municipal Commissioner to inform you that the Municipal Commissioner will not extend the project period if you are not able to give satisfactory explanation of the delay in completion of the project... You are hereby finally directed to show cause within seven days on receipt of this letter and to pay the 90% capitalized value amounting to Rs 26,12,62,143/- with interest thereon at 18% calculated till 31st December 2011, amounting to Rs 8,43,91,251/-. The total amounting to Rs 34,56,53,394/- within seven days and payment of applicable stamp duty with penalty if any failing which following action will be initiated against you; The Building Proposal Department will be directed to issue stop work notice for the above referred project work and all other projects undertaken by you in MCGM; You and your companies will not be allowed to take up any other MCGM project in future; The law officer will launch prosecution against you for recovery of payment which is due to MCGM. If the building is found occupied in part or full, the building Proposal Department will be asked to issue notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and take further action, which please note”. This letter has a footnote directing Executive Engineer (Building Proposal) City to issue stop work notice to the Pariwar Safalya CHS redevelopment project and “any other project being undertaken by this developer / Notice u/s 353 of MMC Act and not to process any other redevelopment project as per AMC(ES)s order under No. AMC/ES/702/4 dated 26-12-2011.”

  6. RTI Activist Sulaiman Bhimani, who is also a Project Affected Person (PAP), recently made a detailed complaint to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Mumbai Police regarding the corrupt misdoings of Skyline Construction Company of RNA Group at its SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre (ODC), Jogeshwari West. Highlights of this complaint: “MMRDA has spent almost Rs 9 crore for repairing the substandard work in PAP building in lieu of which TDR was released, and MMRDA has not recovered any amount from the developer, the MMRDA officials accepted the substandard work without any verification. The plumber has certified that he has used AC pipes but on site very low quality and substandard PVC pipes have been used and the engineer who accepted this certificate has not put any note on it for the change of material nor raised any objection for substandard work. The Project Management Consultant (PMC) certified that Plumbing and Drainage work is done as per approved plan, but on site the story is different. The Chambers as per approved plan have been shown 1.5mts away from the building line but onsite they are touching the building line as well as the underground water tank. Due to this shoddy work the water gets contaminated and even after spending Rs 9 crores this defect still exists. The Developer was issued IOA and CC on the same day, which is very unusual. Normally IOA is issued to the developer with 38 conditions to comply and it takes almost 45 days to comply all the conditions of IOA and the developer after complying all the conditions applies for CC and the MMRDA officials visit the site to verify all the compliance but in this case the IOA and CC were issued on the same day. There is open space violation which is in violation of fire safety norms, but MMRDA officials have turned Nelson eyes even after repeated complaints. The Recreation which as per Agreement was supposed to be developed by developer not been handed over to MMRDA for Public Use even after 10 years. Pedestrian Plaza as per Agreement and IOA condition and LOI was supposed to be developed by developer, but the same is not constructed. But TDR/FSI of 55000 sft is released for the same to the developer.” The so-called pedestrian plaza is a scam whereby, without laying a single brick or redeveloping a single inch of slum land, RNA earned 55,000 square feet of TDR, worth over Rs 4,000/- per square foot. That alone means a free gift of over Rs 22 crore for the Aggarwal family. He has also pointed out how RNA Exotica in ODC has gobbled up a 25-metre public road and used it for RNA's site office.

  7. In the case of RNA Palazzo in Kandivali West, which is being advertised as “space, Luxury and lifestyle all packed into your customized 2 BHK apartments”, 24 investors and flat purchasers have filed a complaint to EOW of Mumbai Police of outright cheating and fraud. After cumulatively paying more than Rs 50 crore (some have paid 50 percent, and other 100 percent of the value of the flat purchase), these purchasers are left high and dry, because the construction work stopped in September 2011, and has not resumed till date. The completion date was December 2012, and more than three years later, the Aggarwals have nothing to offer their buyers other than false assurances.
There are at least a dozen such stories about RNA Corp in Mumbai, still waiting to be told. One keeps getting calls from victims all the time – many of them so demoralized that they are unlikely to ever lift a finger to even write a letter of complaint.

Well done, Anil Aggarwal. Your legacy is in safe hands. Lagey raho!


a) For details on GA Ganga Sagar in Ghatkopar East, call Mukesh Chauhan 9324526890

b) For details on RNA Grande in Kandivali West, callDr Patil 9820135350

c) For details on RNA's SRA project at Sewri, call Sujata Vijay Kumar 9869286842

d) For details on RNA's Aram Nagar redevelopment project in Versova, call Shaikh Nasreen 9833639370 

e) For details of RNA Palazzo project, Kandivali West, call Advocate Ameet Mehta 9821283232

f) For details of RNA's multifaceted cheating in the SRA project at Oshiwara District Centre, RNA Exotica and many other RNA projects in Mumbai, call Sulaiman Bhimani 9323642081