It is a classic case of political, muscle and money power within the family.
Narendra Mehta, the former mayor of Mira-Bhayander region and now a powerful BJP MLA with strong support of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, is stretching all his muscles to fight with district administration and police authorities to save his allegedly illegal recreational club, which is under construction.
Mehta is building an ultra-luxury club named Seven Eleven Club at Mira Road, adjoining to Mumbai with all world-class recreational facilities.
The hitch is that the club is getting constructed on a wetland without any permission from Ministry of Environment and Forests and without obtaining no occupation certificate (OC) from Mira Bhayander Municipal Corporation (MBMC). The only document the minister has is the commencement certificate (CC) issued by MBMC. But, how he got it, well, that is the matter of investigation.
On May 15, Laxman Pawar, circle officer reporting to Collector Office in Thane, lodged an FIR under Section 15 and 17 of the Environment Protection Act against eight persons. It includes Vinod Mehta, brother of Narendra Mehta, director in Seven Eleven Hotel Pvt Ltd and also husband of Mayor Dimple Mehta for allegedly reclaiming wetlands to construct an ultra-luxurious club.
India Today tried to reach Pawar, the complainant, for his version, but failed as his mobile number was continuously off. But Adhik Patil, tehsildar of Thane region confirmed to India Today, "All accused named in the FIR has been destroying mangroves to construct a recreational club, violating Environment Protection Act, blatantly. Hence, our officer went ahead and lodged a criminal complaint against all. Now, the police is investigating the case and would take required action."
Other accused includes the current and former directors of Seven Eleven Hotels Pvt Ltd and some lower level employees. Rajnikant Singh, brother of Mayor Dimple Mehta is among the eight persons.
On the investigation side, DySP Narsing Bhosale remained unavailable to answer the queries. But when the investigative officer (IO) Narendra Kore was asked, he replied back saying "probe is on".
Kore said, "We are investigating the case. Soon, we would issue notices to all parties including Vinod Mehta and other seeking relevant documents for examination." Kore has not ruled out the arrest of accused, if found standing on the wrong side of law.
Shockingly, two days back, when the FIR was registered (thrice till date) Mehta family stormed into the police station late night and warned the police officials -- either arrest Vinod Mehta on the spot or arrest the complainant. In fact, Narendra Mehta challenged the tehsildar (also present in police station) to prove his brother Vinod guilty. "If the complaint is false, either myself and mayor Dimple Mehta would resign or let the collector resign," Mehta had reportedly said.
When the India Today team reached out Narendra Mehta to get his views on these allegations, he came up with some strange answers, which could raises serious questions on the quality of politicians generated out of BJP factory.
Sitting in a commercial chamber that belongs to his director Sanjay Surve, businessman-turned-politician Mehta shot back saying (in Hindi), "Yeh jo businessmen hai oonhein rajniti nahin karni chahiye aur jo rajniti karte hai oonhein business karna nahin chahiye, yeh jo aarop lagte aaye hai ki mein vyapaar (business) karun hi nahin. Piche kai saalon se mein business karta aaya hun, rajniti toh mein shauk se karta hun, kyunki oose mujhe khushi milti hai."
It is crucial to inform that Mehta is Class 8 dropout, but today his personal assets is in crores. He continued, "All the allegations against Vinod Mehta are false. Three times FIRs were filed against him. One in 2010, second in 2016 and now two days back. If you have evidences arrest him and if police have nothing to prove than why lodging FIR again and again. I have warned police officials that these things should not be repeated. In fact, I will speak to the government to take severe action against these government officials who are working under pressure coming from activists."
Mehtas rule Mira Bhayander region
If one looks carefully, the clout of Mehtas' in entire Mira Bhayander region is very strong and quite visible. MLA Narendra Mehta had played important role for BJP in winning Mira-Bhayander municipal corporation election, last year.
He managed to make his sister-in-law Dimple Mehta - the mayor of MBMC. Dimple's brother Rajnikant Singh, another accused in FIR, is known for developing nexus between government officials and businessmen, on the ground.
Under the name of Seven Eleven group of companies, managed by directors named: Sanjay Surve and Dinesh Jain, controlled by brother Vinod Mehta, MLA Narendra Mehta has not only allegedly usurped almost all the open space under his name, but has laid his hands in major residential and commercial projects coming in this region.
Documents accessed by India Today from Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) revealed that Narendra Mehta is the director number one with 57.57 per cent shareholding in Seven Eleven Hotels Pvt Ltd - the company which is constructing the luxury club. It is followed by his wife Suman Mehta with 14.55 per cent stake, Seven Eleven Communication Pvt Ltd with 4.23 per cent, Seven Eleven Construction Pvt Ltd with 23.62 and Vinod Mehta (brother) with only 0.02 per cent shareholding in the company.
In 1997, Narendra Mehta formed Sanket Finvest Pvt Ltd with equity shares of 10000 (both brothers having 5000 shares each). The company got renamed into Seven Eleven Hotels Pvt Ltd, which is now officially represented by two directors Sanjay Surve and Dinesh Jain (but controlled by Mehtas), who are the nothing, but the paid directors.
In February 2016, Dinesh Jain gave a consent letter with the subject "consent to act as director" to Seven Eleven Hotels Pvt Ltd. In a telephonic conversation with India Today, Jain admitted that "both Jain and Sanjay Surve are the employees of Seven Eleven Hotels", and not the real directors.
The Articles of Association dated March 1, 2018 - submitted to Registrar of Company Affairs (RoCs) clearly show Narendra Mehta and Vinod Mehta are the directors and promoters of Seven Eleven Hotels Pvt Ltd.
Complaint reaches PMO
The story does not ends here. The strong lobby of environmental activists has registered a complaint with the Prime Minister Office (PMO) in Delhi. Dated May 9, 2018 -- the copy of grievance has been received by one Ambuj Sharma at PMO office (India Today is in possession of the copy).
The complainant Shivaji Mali has explained the modus operandi and the clout of BJP MLA Narendra Mehta is holding in Mira Bhayander Region which is cause of concern for people. Mali stated, "The MLA being close to the CM, no authority enforce law to protect wetland. Local public at large is in agony and blaming political set up as well administration for allowing wetland and mangrove covered land into developed one."
Incidentally, this is second complaint registered before the PMO. In 2016, one Rajendra Goyal dared to lodge a complaint in Delhi, against the MLA and others. "It seems the action has begun from the top on the first complaint," the source said.
Rohit Suorana, an RTI activist said, "It took almost two years to see directions coming from PMO to Maharashtra Government, from Home department to DGP Maharashtra, from DGP to Thane city police commissioner, from Thane city police to Superintendent of Thane (Rural), from Thane rural police to Navghar police station in Mira Road, where on Friday, a written statement of Rajendra Goyal was recorded and forwarded to high authorities. Most probably, it would be referred to C.I.D, Thane."
Authorities remain silent
On May 12, Mehtas inaugurated the Seven Eleven Club without occupation certificate (OC) from MBMC authorities. When queried by India Today regarding the permissions, Balaji Khatgaonkar, MBMC commissioner said, "I have no idea about these permissions. I have just joined the corporation as a new commissioner, almost ten days back. All these permissions were given by the earlier commissioner. We need to check all the documents and revert to you."
A detailed questionnaire sent to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis by India Today to explain his position on the allegations and his explanation behind safeguarding the Mehta family in Mira Bhayander region, remains awaited.
But sources close to CMO revealed the hidden truth saying, "Actually, CM has nothing to do with him. He is local goon with huge winnability capability. Hence..."
The fact remains, it was due to Mehta's calculative strategy that BJP defeated Shiv Sena and other opponents by bagging 61 seats of the 95 in the Mira-Bhayander civic polls, bringing smile on CM's face.
Today, Mehta is the only politician around who had gifted a Lamborghini car to his wife Suman Mehta after steering the party to a landslide victory in 2017, but unfortunately, the next day itself the luxury car got rammed into an autorickshaw by his wife.