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ICAI didn't even look at cheaper locations
January, 05th 2013

As Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) probes a land deal controversy involving its chief Jaideep Shah, details collected by the investigation team shows city-based Shah preferred a Rs 100 crore property in the city's outskirts even though there were offers for under Rs 10 crore. The other sites offered were not even visited before a final decision was taken.

ICAI plans to come up with a Centre of Excellence, a soft-skill training institute, on the site. Shah in his capacity as ICAI chairman had given go-ahead to Rs 100 crore deal in Luxora Township at Pipla in city's outskirts. Offering Rs 100 crore for 5 acres land with 2 lakh square-feet built-up area raised a controversy within the profession. An inquiry committee was formed to probe the deal. The price was dubbed unrealistic for an estate in the outskirts of the city and a misuse of funds collected as fees from students. The committee will be submitting its report this month, sources in ICAI said.

As the team visited the city a fortnight ago, it gathered that ICAI had invited tenders seeking proposals for five to ten acres land in April last year. It received 11 bids, most of them quoted a rate within Rs 10 crore and one Rs 33 crore. These properties were also on the outskirts but Shah and his team appeared to be in a hurry to finalize Luxora offer that was at Rs 100 crore.

Of the 11 bids, three were shortlisted but the other two were not even contacted for a site visit. One of these bids was by Shirkant Ghongde, a local realtor, who said he came to know he was shortlisted only after the inquiry committee contacted him in December. "I had offered two land parcels of five acres in Godhani and seven acre at Borkhedi, for Rs 2.5 crore to Rs 9.14 crore respectively. There was no response from ICAI, so I contacted them at Delhi. I was told that a team would visit the site soon but nobody turned up," Ghongde told TOI. Ghongde said his land in Godhani is just 4 kms from Luxora Township.

Shah did not respond to TOI's attempts to get his comments.

An offer of seven acres by Sudhakar Sonkusale, a banker now transferred to Mumbai, for Rs 3 crore was also short-listed. The land at Hingna is adjacent to Mihan-project but ICAI did not even pay a visit, said Sonkusale.

Shah has been defending his move saying the property he chose was in a modern township and best of the material was being used to build the Centre. Local chartered accountants, however, say that Rs 100 crore was enough to set up a mini-township. ICAI could have purchased vacant land and then awarded a contract for building the centre.

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