Pune’s Defence Bungalow Scandal: IGR Cracks Down On Illegal Sales In Maharashtra

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Pune, 29th January 2024: The Inspector General of Registration (IGR) and Controller of Stamps, Maharashtra State, headquartered in Pune, has issued a directive to all Deputy IGRs and Controllers of Stamps across the state to investigate the sale of old grant bungalows (OGB) built on defence land in their respective jurisdictions.

The directive, prompted by objections raised by Southern Command Defence Estates Director Saurav Ray, emphasizes the need to take immediate action and submit compliance reports to the IGR office.

Ray had expressed concerns about the sale of these OGBs, asserting their status as central government property, making them ineligible for sale. He specifically highlighted the Pune and Khadki cantonment areas, labeling these properties as precious national assets of the Indian army.

IGR (Registration) Udayraj Chavan, in a letter to concerned officials, referred to Ray’s communication dated December 6, 2023, instructing them to take action as per the registration department rules and submit a compliance report regarding the sale of defence bungalows in the cantonment areas. The letter emphasized adherence to property registration rules related to bungalow and defence property sales.

Hiralal Sonawane, IGR, stated that all registration offices in the state have been informed not to register any old grant bungalow defence property without a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Defence or another competent authority. The move comes in response to past incidents of defence bungalows being registered, with instructions to prevent such registrations in the future.

This directive gains significance as fifteen old grant bungalow deals are under scrutiny by the Defence Estate Office, Pune. The Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) boasts over 300 OGBs, and the Khadki Cantonment Board (KCB) holds 60 sprawling bungalow properties valued at approximately ₹10,000 crore in the market.

Recent actions by the DEO, Pune include sealing four bungalows worth ₹350 crores and initiating the takeover process of the New Poona Club for non-payment of dues and lease expiry.

Pune Police Commissioner Retesh Kumaarr sanctioned armed policemen to protect Southern Command Director Ray following alleged threats to his life.

Ray, in a letter to the PCB CEO Subrat Pal, directed a temporary halt to all ongoing constructions in bungalow areas, resuming only after verification of Holder of Occupancy (HOR) credentials and confirmation from the IGR office.

Ray also requested a list of all building sanctions accorded by the PCB in respect of bungalows in Pune Cantonment from Jan 1, 2022, till date. Cantonment-based civic activists have long pointed out misuse, sale, and illegal appropriation of old grant bungalows by Defence Estate Officers, alleging collusion with land sharks and private parties.

The issue revolves around the illegal sale and fraudulent transactions of defence bungalows, indicating a nexus between high-level defence estate officials, private builders, and the land mafia.

High net-worth individuals, builders, politicians, and corporates often acquire old grant bungalows through illegal agreements with private parties, causing substantial losses to the central government, the true owner of these bungalow properties in the country.