Jharkhand HC stays building plans’ nod in Ranchi on graft charge

Why not Shashiranjan, RMC commissioner, and Mukesh Kumar, RRDA vice chairman be suspended for their laxity and the matter probed by CBI, Jharkhand HC asks

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Ranchi: The Jharkhand High Court on Thursday restrained the Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) and the Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) from approving any building plan and asked the state chief secretary why not a CBI probe be ordered into ‘rampant corruption’ prevailing in these institutions.

A bench of Justices S Chandrashekhar and Ratnakar Bhengra gave this order while hearing a writ petition, arising out of a media report, while reprimanding the RMC commissioner and the RRDA vice-chairman for their working style and failure to contain the rampant corruption. The high court had turned the media report, which alleged large-scale corruption in approval of building plans, as a writ petition.

A vernacular daily had published a report that claimed that there was a prevalent practice of approving the building plans at the rate ₹20-30 per square feet illegal money. “Maps of those refusing the pay the bribe as per the fixed rates are objected and disapproved. The appeals against the objections in the RRDA are not taken up until the officials are bribed,” claimed a small time builder Pawan Kumar.

The bench remarked said that corruption was rampant in these institutions. “No action has been taken to stop corruption. Why not Shashiranjan, RMC commissioner, and Mukesh Kumar, RRDA vice chairman be suspended for their laxity and the matter probed by CBI?,” said the bench, while directing the chief secretary to report as what action did the state government took in the light of report of rampant corruption in building map approval.

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During the hearing of the case, the bench made several sharp remarks. The bench orally said the court understood everything. “Don’t tell us what’s wrong. Corruption in the map passing game must be prevented at all costs. Why is there no transparency in the map passing process,” the bench asked. The bench made the remarks when counsel for the defendants were describing the published news as incorrect and false.

The bench asked why appointments to the sanctioned posts, which are vacant for months and year, are kept pending. The bench asked that an independent committee be constituted to look into the objections raised during the passing of the map. The bench directed RRDA and RMC to provide details (in tabular chart) of maps returned on the basis of any objection and pending maps during the period from January 1 to November 30 this year and fixed December 7 as the next date for hearing of the matter.

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Municipal commissioner Shashiranjan and RRDA vice chairman Mukesh Kumar were present in person during the hearing. Earlier, the bench directed the RRDA and the RMC to produce the details of the junior engineers and town planners in the second session of the hearing. It was brought to the court’s notice that there has been no permanent appointment in RRDA since 1982. Likewise, no permanent appointments could be made in the municipal corporation for the last 20 years. Work is being done on contract basis.

During the hearing, it came to the light that illegal amounts are demanded in addition to the prescribed fees for map approval of buildings. The map is not accepted if the extra amount is not paid. It is said that about the PMC authorities ask for ₹30,000-50,000 for approval of small houses while the apartment’s plan is charged in the range of ₹20-30 per sq ft illegal money.

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