The Dalapathy Munnetra Kattadam, the Chennai-based construction giant also known as DMK, has asked the Chief Quality Controller Vidyasagar Rao to test the floor at Fort St. George in Chennai immediately. It suspects that Chief Mason (CM) Edappadi Palaniswami has violated building norms.
According to the rules governing the city of Chennai, Palaniswami's property should have a minimum area of 118 square feet. The DMK alleges Palaniswami is short by at least four square feet as his former partner TTV Dhinakaran is in benaami possession of close to 20 square feet out of the original 134 square feet, their Special Purpose Vehicle procured in Fort St. George last year.
“Vidyasagar Saar, Palaniswami has projected an inflated picture. This is fraud. If you order a test, he will be floored,” pleaded MK Stalin of the DMK. Stalin who took over the operational reins of his 68-year-old company from his ailing father earlier this year, has found fault with Rao saying the Chief Quality Controller does not attend office most of the time.
“Just because Mumbai, in terms of floor area, is far more in demand, Rao spends more time in that city than in Chennai. I do not understand why. We also have a sea view just like Mumbai has,” added Stalin, while speaking to the media.
The DMK's sleeping partner, the Indian National Constructions has also demanded that Rao should check on the Palaniswami's flooring at the earliest, pointing out that it is also very slippery.
“As you know, last month, Palaniswami acquired a smaller firm called Dharma Yudham Inner Constructions which has its head office at Marina Beach. But even after making his new partner O Panneerselvam the Chief Financial officer, his property does not meet the stipulations,” said the INC in a press release.
Palaniswami has rubbished the demand for a test on the quality of his flooring. “This is the House that was constructed by Amma. We all know the amount of money we spent to construct it last year. Are they questioning the construction quality undertaken by Amma? How dare they? This is our property,” he retorted.
Dhinakaran has warned Palaniswami not to drag in Amma's name into the current property dispute. “After Amma, the property is now registered in the name of Chinnamma. You were merely appointed the custodian of the property after Chinnamma had to urgently go on an outstation trip. But in a clandestine manner, you let out the space to Hindi-speaking people from Delhi and allowed them to operate from our premises without permission. That is illegal,” said Dhinakaran.
Palaniswami retorted by showing CCTV footage from Bengaluru, where he alleged Chinnamma has acquired a five-bedroom facility. “She needs to answer whether the money she is getting everyday as TA/DA is sufficient to acquire such a huge property,” argued Palaniswami.
The squabble between Palaniswami and Dhinakaran is ironical because just a few months ago, the duo was jointly trying to acquire an expensive property in RK Nagar in Chennai for Rs 89 crore. If the deal had gone through, it would have strengthened Mannargudi Constructions, that has its branches in Koovathur, Puducherry, Coorg and Bengaluru. The transaction fell through after an independent inspection team from Delhi found that Dhinakaran was indulging in cash-for-property transaction.
“It is illegal to acquire property without linking it to PAN and Aadhaar card,” clarified an official.
But the Dhinakaran threat is for real. He has declared that even the 112 square feet area reportedly under Palaniswami's control has many dormant termites who when activated, will wreck the property. Which is why before Rao orders that the flooring be checked, Palaniswami and Panneerselvam are seriously contemplating outsourcing pest control work to a Delhi-based agency, which has expertise in the field.
Dhinakaran has alleged that Palaniswami has launched “Operation ROFL” under which he will stage a hostile takeover of Mannargudi Constructions and then apply for a flooring test under the building regularisation scheme. Sources told Tenali Rama that Palaniswami plans to roll on the floor laughing after his floor has been tested.
Raising a technical point, Stalin claimed the chances of Palaniswami diversifying into the horse-trading business are very real.
“This is against the constitution of Fort St George Association. You cannot be in two businesses at the same time. If he is interested in horses, Palaniswami should quit the property business,'' said Stalin.
Palaniswami has clarified buying horses is a hobby. “No horse from my stable has bolted even though I do not have even two leaves to feed them,” he declared.
He has pointed a finger at Stalin, alleging his DMK had tried its hand in the Telecom sector with 2G and burnt its fingers in the bargain. “The world has got connected to 4G but your firm has still not been able to explain its connection with 2G before the Tamil Nadu association,” he alleged.