It may be mentioned here that the Azad Maidan police have already registered an FIR against six people of this mansion for theft of groundwater worth Rs 73 crore over 11 years. This is considered the first such case in police history. Those booked in the case include the owners of Pandya Mansion and three water tanker operators.
According to the FIR, the accused allegedly sold nearly 6.1 lakh tankers (of 10,000 liters capacity each) at an average cost of Rs 1,200 per tanker. Police have also calculated earlier 10 years period (1997-2007) for one of the wells which was used for commercial sale to arrive at a final theft amount of Rs 73.19cr.
EDA application was filed by Groundwater Activist Sureshkumar Dhoka in 2018 claiming Rs 222 crores after his earlier petitions to stop illegal extraction of groundwater from these two illegal wells and close them permanently won him favorable orders and actions from the authorities.
According to Dhoka his calculations are based on the actual rate of Rs 3,000 per tanker charged to housing societies instead of Rs 1,200 and also calculates the earlier period between 1997 and 2007 (with same rate of Rs 3000 per tanker) during which one of the wells was used for similar illegal sale of groundwater and hence the amount of Rs 222 crore, more than that of the police. Besides, various penalties and fines for extraction related crimes are also part of my Rs 222 cr claim, he said.
Extracting groundwater without obtaining necessary permission/NOC from groundwater authorities in the country, state and the local authorities such as BMC is considered an illegal Act. Moreover, the wells were dug illegally without seeking the permission of the BMC. IT may me mentioned here that the bmc has already canceled the 999 years of lease awarded to the Pandya mansion over charges of illegal commercial exploitation and digging up wells without its permissions.
According to Dhoka all the central and state authorities have been made in the case. Lokmanya Tilak Marg The police station had previously filed a chargesheet against Pandya brothers for forging building plans to include two wells in the premises, then digging them up and exploiting their water for commercial gain. The National Green Tribunal had subsequently ordered permanent closure of the wells. The Madras HC in October 2018 had made it clear that those extracting groundwater illegally were punishable under IPC.