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Maharashtra: SRA chief executive officer transferred, had ‘uneasy relationship’ with minister

Written by Sandeep A Ashar
| Mumbai |

Published: June 10, 2020 2:50:48 am

Slum Rehabilitation Authority’s (SRA) chief executive officer Deepak Kapoor. (Source: Twitter/@Deepakk75058621)

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday transferred Slum Rehabilitation Authority’s (SRA) chief executive officer Deepak Kapoor. His transfer comes at a time when the government has adopted a policy against transfers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kapoor, a 1991-batch IAS officer, was instrumental in introducing key institutional reforms in the functioning of the SRA, which had been mired in several allegations in the past. Uddhav has named Satish Lokhande (2004 batch) as Kapoor’s successor. He was previously holding the charge of chief officer, Mumbai Repairs and Reconstruction Board.

Kapoor, meanwhile, has been appointed as vice-chairman and managing director of the Maharashtra Airport Development Company, which had been vacant for some time now.

Sources said Kapoor was at odds with Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad over certain issues, including conversion schemes for SRA projects sanctioned under Mumbai’s old Development Control (DC) regulations. Last month, Awhad’s department had gone ahead forming a special cell within the SRA for expediting clearance for such conversion projects. The cell is headed by Deputy Chief Engineer (SRA) RB Mitkar.

Under old DC regulations, SRA projects in the city were required to build a 269 sq ft carpet area rehabilitation tenement for slum dwellers. With the latest DC rules (DCPR, 2034) increasing the minimum rehab tenement size to 300 sq ft, the government has allowed projects cleared under the old regime to migrate to the new rule under certain conditions. Such a conversion allows slum developers additional buildable space.

Former chief minister Devendra Fadnvis had appointed Kapoor to SRA in July 2017, following allegations of rampant wrongdoing in project clearances against his predecessor Vishwas Patil. An inquiry, constituted by Fadnavis into the allegations, had found irregularities in some of the clearances, but hadn’t pinned the blame of Patil.

Sources said that Kapoor had been successful in steadying SRA’s boat in the last three years. “The SRA issued LOIs to 512 projects in the last three years, averaging one permission every 2.3 working days. There was no controversy,” an official said. Officials in the housing department, meanwhile, pointed out that Kapoor had almost completed three years at SRA, which is the normal tenure for any IAS cadre post.

Lending a hand in Covid-19 control operations in Mumbai, the SRA had last month handed over 11 rehabilitation buildings to BMC for setting up institutional Covid care facilities.

The 11 projects – one in the island city and five each in the western and eastern suburbs – together account for 2,080 tenements.

These projects were yet to be issued occupation certificates due to pendency of some compliances by the developers, but the SRA has issued a temporary occupation certificate permitting BMC to requisition these for setting up quarantine facilities.

Incidentally, some of the affected developers and slum dwellers have challenged the move in the Bombay High Court, which is hearing the matter but hasn’t stayed the move so far. In his new assignment, Kapoor will now report to general administration department led by Uddhav.

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