In what could spell more trouble for BJP MP Hema Malini who is caught in a land allotment controversy, a fresh RTI query revealed that the actress allegedly violated the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Act by destroying mangroves on a plot previously given to her at Versova, for which a notice was served to her in 1998.
The actress, however, contended that an unnecessary row was being kicked up over the matter as she had already said that she would return the land at Versova once she takes possession of the land recently allotted to her.
The actress-turned-politician is already facing heat from the opposition for securing a prime piece of land admeasuring 2000 sq metres for her dance academy in Oshiwara at Andheri for a throwaway price of Rs 70,000.
As per the information furnished by Mumbai Suburban Collector in response to the query filed by RTI activist Anil Galgali, Malini was allotted a plot in Versova village (of Andheri taluka), bearing survey no 161, admeasuring 1741.89 sq metres, whose possession was handed over to her on April 4, 1997.
Subsequently, a notice was served to her by the Mumbai Suburban Collector on August 28, 1998, copy of which has been obtained by Galgali.
The notice was addressed to Malini, as a trustee of Natyavihar Kala Kendra Charity Trust, asking her as to why "this office" (of the suburban collector) should not tell the state government to cancel the letter of intent for the allotment as norms of the CRZ Act were violated.
According to the reply, the dance academy had made a payment of Rs 10 lakh for acquiring the plot.
The notice also mentioned that the project report signed by an architect showed the availability of 25 per cent funds for the project, but sought to know what plans the Trust had to raise the balance 75 per cent of the cost.
Citing the report submitted by the Andheri Tehsildar, the Collector also said that CRZ rules were violated by destroying the mangroves.
"The notice which demanded an explanation within 10 days, was neither responded by the Trust, nor any action was taken on it by the Collector's office," Galgali alleged.
Rejecting the allegation, Malini told PTI, "All the hullabaloo is being created unnecessarily, as I never had an intention to get two pieces of land. I had already decided to return the land previously allotted and I'm going to do it as and when I get the possession of recently allotted land."
The RTI activist said he was not opposed to land being allotted to the actress but was questioning the "favouritism" shown by the state government to the actress.
"I am not opposing the land allotment to Hema Malini. I am opposing the process and favouritism meted out by the state government to benefit its party MP," he said.
Galgali also said that it was not only the BJP-led government but others were also involved in doling out favours to the 67-year-old Bollywood veteran.
"On the basis of the facts before the government, the new land allotment was initiated by ignoring the previous violations. And senior officials of the Revenue Department also overlooked the issue by not going through the past records," Galgali alleged.
On Monday, clarifying her position on the newly allotted land, Malini had said she has "not grabbed" it and she will abide by the government's rules regarding its purchase.
Malini's trust had some years ago applied for allotment of a 5,000 sq metre of plot at Ambivali, out of a 29,360 sq m open land reserved for a garden.
The government allotted 2,000 sq m of land to the trust with the condition that it would develop a garden on the remaining portion.
According to documents obtained under an RTI query, the actress was allotted the land at the rate of Rs 35 per sq metre which comes to Rs 70,000 in total, when its market price could be several crores of rupees.
The opposition Congress had earlier turned the heat on the BJP-led government for the allotment of Ambivali plot to Malini's academy at a throw-away price besides accusing it of flouting procedures.