The tiny Parsi-Irani community is one of the largest land owners in and around Mumbai. The Wadia, Godrej and Jeejeebhoy families are some of the big landlords while the Bombay Parsi Punchayat controls over 5,000 apartments in the city.
But few had heard about the century-old Iranian Zoroastrian Anjuman, till its humungous land bank came into the public eye recently. The Anjuman owns a 963-acre sprawl in Palghar, about 110-kms from Mumbai. When it put up the entire property for sale, a huge controversy broke out in the miniscule community.
The Anjuman had invited tenders, but when the highest bidder turned out to be a construction firm linked to the family of gangster Bhai Thakur, all hell broke loose.
The firm, Viva Homes, offered the Anjuman Rs 75 lakh per acre, beating all other competitors in its offer. But community activists protested and pointed out the company’s dubious links. They feared that because of its clout, the developer would just pay a token amount and then wear the Anjuman down for the remaining amount.
Meanwhile, Godrej Properties and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) offered to develop the land, but both have been unable to match Viva’s offer.
Meanwhile, the Anjuman trustees have defended the sale to Viva and said adequate precautions have been taken to ensure they are not cheated. The trustees said they will consider any offer that outbids Viva’s offer. Money from the sale will be used to help the poor within the community, they claimed. The proposed land transaction will be keenly watched as the trustees all set to sign a memorandum of understanding with Viva Homes.