DEO Takes Swift Action: Seals Iconic British-Era ‘Red House’ in Pune Cantonment

Camp: In a decisive move to curb the illegal sale of defence land, the Defence Estates Office (DEO), Southern Command, sealed the iconic ‘Red House,’ a British-era heritage bungalow estimated at Rs 50 crore. This marks the fourth property sealed by the DEO in Pune Cantonment, signaling an intensified effort to protect valuable national assets.

The property in question, Bungalow No. 20 on Napier Road, sprawls over 753.15 sq meters and was unlawfully sold on June 19, 2023, for a mere Rs nine crore. The Holder of Occupancy Rights (HOR), Nina Gayomard Bharucha, Vera Anand Mahajan, Khursheed Malwinder Narang, and Jamshed KJ Khambatta, all residents of Mumbai and Pune, were implicated in the illegal transaction. The sealing comes as a response to the property being managed without the necessary permissions on Class 3 defence land.

Amidst the controversy, experts are calling for a nationwide investigation into the fraudulent sale of such bungalows. They emphasize the necessity of establishing a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and halting transactions through Inspector General of Registration (IGR) offices nationwide. A defense official stated, “The nexus of the IGR-Builder lobby, involving influential and rich personalities operating through their frontmen and brokers, must be unraveled across the country to prevent the illegal sale of precious national assets to private mega-rich buyers.”

Pune Cantonment, home to 290 Other Government Bungalows (OGBs), is not the only region facing such challenges. The Khadki Cantonment Board possesses 60 strategically located properties ranging in size from one to six acres. As the DEO continues its crackdown, there is a growing call for increased vigilance and stricter measures to safeguard the country’s defense land.

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