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Mukesh Ambani pays 16 lakh to Wakf board, gets NOC


Jul 09, 2007 at 10:05pm IST

Mumbai: Mukesh Ambani’s Rs 100-crore dream home plan, said to be the world’s most expensive city mansion, may now realise after remaining in a land-transfer controversy.

The Maharashtra Waqf Board has issued a no-objection certificate for the deal after receiving a payment of Rs 16 lakh from Ambani. However, the clearance from the Wakf Borad has now sparked fresh controversy.

According to the state law, the Wakf board is not allowed to sell or lease properties. It can only transfer land from one department to the other. Also the Wakf Ministry had issued notices to 19 other properties in Maharashtra, which have not received any such clearance. The question is how come the board doesn’t see any objection in Mukesh Ambani's project.

The Maharashtra Wakf board on Monday issued a statement saying that the piece of land on which the multi-stpryed complex Antilia is being built, does not belong to the board. It said that the land belongs to Currimbhoy Orphanage trust.

Within hours of this statement the Wakf ministry of Maharashtra government issued a counter statement saying that the land was indeed a Wakf property. The ministry has also issued notices to the board regarding 19 other properties.

“Wakf land cannot be sold, leased out or exchanged. That’s why we have sent a notice,” said Anees Ahmed Wakf Minister.

Mukesh Ambani’s multi-storeyed mansion in Mumbai was declared illegal by the Maharashtra government after it received complaints that the Wakf board did not have the rights to sell the land for the building.

Waqf Board had issued a notice seeking the land back, which blocked the Rs 21-crore land deal between Antilia Commercial Private Limited and Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Orphanage (a charitable trust).

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Detailing the acquisition of the 4,532 sq m plot in south Mumbai, where Ambani is building a 27-storey skyscraper, sources in the know said Antilia had obtained a no-objection certificate for the deal from the Waqf Board in 2004 after paying it fees of Rs 16 lakh without prejudice to the Waqf Board's claim on the land.

Sources in the Waqf Board confirmed that the body had received Rs 16 lakh as Waqf fund for the deal. "The amount was received as per an amicable settlement between Antilia and the Waqf Board," a source said.

Participating in a public bid, Antilia purchased the plot from Currimbhoy Ebrahim Khoja Orphanage in 2002 for over Rs 21 crore.

The Waqf Board had on Thursday issued a notice asking Antilia to explain within seven days why the plot should not be restored to the Board as it was acquired 'in contravention of Waqf rules.'

Sources in the know said the state Charity Commissioner had given permission to the orphanage to sell the land. Income tax authorities too had vetted the deal and found that the offer made by Antilia was not 'less than the fair market value' of the land.

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