MUMBAI: The Jalgaon district court on Saturday held guilty 48 accused, including two former ministers and seven corporators, in the multi-crore 'Gharkul' housing scam in Jalgaon.
While Suresh Jain, the then housing minister has been sentenced to seven years of imprisonment along with Rs 100 crore of fine, the then guardian minister Gulabrao Deokar has been sentenced to five years of jail and Rs 50 lakh of fine.
Another leader in the scam Shiv Sena MLA Chandrakant Sonawane too has been sentenced to five years of jail and Rs 50 lakh fine, while 35 other convicts in the case have been awarded four years of jail term.
None of the 48 convicts has got less than four years of jail time.
While Jain has already spent several years in jail in the 20-year-old case, Deokar was arrested in 2013. Both of them, along with several others, are currently out on bail. The court has directed the police to arrest them immediately and send them to Dhule jail.
The then Municipal Council of Jalgaon had floated the ‘Gharkul’ housing scheme in 1999 for the slum dwellers. It raised loans worth Rs 110 crore for building 11,000 houses under the scheme that year. However, the misconduct in the scheme came out in 2001, around when the Municipal Council was transformed into a Municipal Corporation.
It came to light that the land where the houses were being built didn’t belong to the corporation. Permissions for non-agriculture use of the land too had not been acquired.
The work was allotted to developers close to the rulers in the corporation and contractors were given Rs 29 crore interest-free advances. They were showered with several concessions yet the work wasn’t completed in time and the corporation didn’t take any action against the contractors.
Apart from Deokar and Jain, in all 90 individuals were indicted in the case. Jagannath Wani of Khandesh Builders, Director Raja Mayur, the then-mayor and corporators, architect and legal advisor of the corporation and several other officers were some of the other accused who comprise of the 48 people convicted today in the case.
While Jain, originally from the Congress, had switched over to the Shiv Sena during their government in the state between 1995-99, Deokar was the face of the NCP in North Maharashtra. Their indiction in the case created a political space in the region that BJP promptly filled up.