India's tallest skyscraper Palais Royal implicated in allegations of theft of Rs 1,200 crore

MUMBAI: The Palais Royal Challenge, besieged in the Worli Naka skyscraper, has entered into yet another controversy with its former promoter claiming a Rs 1,200 crore rip involving high-ranking civil officers and senior political figures.

In a letter to Prime Minister Eknath Shinde, former Vice Chairman and CEO of Shree Ram City Infrastructure Restricted (SRUIL) Vikas Castlewall called for a phase one investigation into the circumstances resulting in the illegal connivance of Waives a premium to the general position (PPL), and grants additional grounds to challenge at a “hypersonic” pace.

A premium of Rs 166 crore that was allegedly levied was overlooked by Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal and half of the amount was to be attributed to the state authorities. Occupancy certificates were issued to the PPL “in a confidential manner and in the context of the height of the initial wave of the COVID 19 pandemic,” the letter to CM Eknath Shinde claimed.

“Even the shelter areas within the building are being covered up in collusion with the fireplace security department and the conduct of the chief fireplace officer must be investigated,” Castlewall claimed.

The tallest skyscraper in India has been mired in controversy since construction began in 2007 and came to a halt here in 2012 after a series of public curiosity lawsuits. Project delays and value overruns led to bankruptcy proceedings.

In explaining the alleged theft, Kasliwal stated that PPL needs to pay a premium of Rs 166 crore as per a request delivered by Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh in 2017 to organize the multi-level parking area. SRUIL agreed to pay the amount.

Commissioner Iqbal Chahal, however, later waived the premium and various costs and cleared the prior possession, he claimed. These transactions must be thoroughly investigated to ensure that the loss to the civilian body is recovered, Castlewall demanded. Of his insurance premiums he has taken a voluntary retirement and is now going through the costs of corruption.

The PPL was established by SRUIL for the FSI Incentive as per the State Government Scheme. The additional FSI can be used on a number of Palais Royale floors and stability within the different land areas of SRUIL. This PPL has been suspended by then Municipal Commissioner Sitaram Count. In October 2019, the High Court of Justice authorized the full Palais Royale Challenge in addition to the PPL, following the chronic authorized PIL fight. Palais Royale to the honest shelters of Solitaire Builders based in Pune. When contacted, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal declined to comment saying “all things have been accomplished in accordance with the orders of the Honorable High Court”, while Sincere Shelters promoter Pramod Ranka, the alleged beneficiary of the BMC grant remained unavailable for comment.

In response to the grievance letter to Eknath Shinde, PPL is in no way pledged to Indiabulls, and is specifically excluded from public sale. It was under the management of the official liquidator in accordance with the instructions of the excess court schedule, but was acquired by BMC in 2021 claiming 'prior possession' of the property.

Castlewall claimed Benefit Sincere Shelters cleared to increase livable space by 20% and from 144 models to 172 models in a two-day report. Even at the Commissioner's end, the proposal was approved in nearly 4 hours and resulted in a huge direct loss to the treasuries of the civil body, state government and honest shelters enriched by more than Rs. 1200 crores.

The method was accomplished so quickly that the current dwelling beneficiaries were not consulted which is a complete violation of RERA requirements and regulations, added Castlewall.

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