Young billionaire Shahid Balwa, one of the main accused in the 2G scam case, may have made headlines in the national media for weeks on end but Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat claims he has “not even heard of him”.
Kamat was replying to a query from reporters late on Monday as to whether the state government was probing a controversial project promoted by Dynamix Balwas (DB) group in Goa, in which the now arrested Balwa is a partner.
He was asked whether the Goa government was probing the project spread over 140 acres of prime sea-side land, especially after Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan stopped work on a Rs125 crore project in Pune, promoted by Balwa’s DB group, citing massive irregularities and improper land usage.
Promoted as the abode of the rich and famous, the controversial luxury project Aldeia de Goa, is located near the Siridao-Bambolim bay on the outskirts of Panaji and boasts leisure facilities, including a 30,000 sq ft club house, swimming pool, jogging track, well-equipped gym, amphitheatre, tennis courts, a 5-star hotel from the Hyatt chain, a shopping mall and food court.
The entire multi-crore project promoted by the DB Group, which is a partnership between two billionaire businessmen Balwa and Vinod Goenka, had been facing opposition from local civic groups which claimed that several laws related to land use had allegedly been violated, especially norms related to Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and hill slope cutting.
Civic groups and NGOs, including the Goa Bachao Abhiyaan (GBA), an umbrella group for several dozen organisations in Goa, and the Goa Foundation, an NGO promoting green causes, had in 2006 dragged the Goa government to court for giving permissions and licences to the project, which were in violation of both central as well as local laws.
In a queer twist, then chief secretary J.P. Singh had told the Bombay High Court that the entire file pertaining to the Aldeia de Goa case had been “missing”.
Chief Secretary Sanjay Srivastava said that the state government could initiate a probe into irregularities only after it was instructed to by union government agencies.
“If there are any financial irregularities, perhaps the Enforcement Directorate (ED) will know,” Srivastava said.
The Maharashtra government had two weeks back issued stop work orders to a Rs125 crore residential project in Yerwada, Pune, after it was unearthed that the land was in fact demarcated into a school, playground and a hospital.
He was the fourth person arrested in the infamous Rs1.8 lakh crore 2G scam, in which former union minister for telecommunications A.Raja is already in the dock.