Who is Devyani Khobragade?
Devyani Khobragade claims the value of her properties at Rs1.78 crore plus three tracts of land in her own statement to MEA. A lot of her properties are inherited from or gifted to her by her father, Uttam Khobragade, a controversial former IAS officer
Dr Devyani Khobragade, the officer from Indian Foreign Services (IFS) cadre is at the centre of a diplomatic row between India and the US. In order to ensure full diplomatic immunity post the arrest and release episode in New York, Dr Khobragade was on Wednesday transferred to the Indian permanent mission at UN in New York. While several people know about her father, Uttam Khobragade, a retired officer from Indian Administrative Services (IAS), nothing much is known about Devyani Khobragade. What is interesting are the huge assets in her name, a lot of which was gifted by her father, a controversial officer of the IAS.
According to a statement submitted by Dr Khobragade to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), as of 31 March 2012, she owned 11 properties, including flats and land in Maharashtra, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. She declared some of the flats and land as 'inherited' from her father while others were bought by her. As per the declaration, Dr Khobragade earns a salary of Rs50,350 (including grade pay) per month, while generating revenues of Rs2.26 lakh a year from all her immovable properties. The total value of properties, excluding three agriculture land, owned by Dr Khobragade is Rs1.78 crore as per her statement. In short, as of 31 March 2012, Dr Khobragade was earning total revenues, including her salary and income from properties, of Rs8.30 lakh for FY2012 and owned properties of Rs1.78 crore, plus market value of three tracts of land.
However, as per the present market value, her properties may be worth more than Rs6 crore as her 1,000 sq ft in the controversial Adarsh Coop Housing Society (Adarsh CHS) in Mumbai alone is worth about Rs4 crore.
Dr Khobragade stated that she bought the flat in Adarsh CHS for Rs90 lakh by selling a flat in Meera Coop Housing Society at Oshiwara in Mumbai. While this may look good on paper, the reality may be quite different as the property rates between Oshiwara, which is located between Goregaon and Jogeshwari, and Colaba, the prime location of the Adarsh CHS, are way apart. For example, at present a flat in Colaba is priced between Rs39,400 to Rs43,600 per sq ft, while the same in Goregaon costs between Rs14,800 to Rs15,300, per sq ft as per Magicbricks.com. In short, the price difference between a flat in Colaba and Oshiwara is about three times. She did not mention the purchase price or value of her Oshiwara flat in the statement, though.
In 2006, Dr Khobragade purchased a non-agriculture plot measuring 5,000 sq ft at Alibag from Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) that is shows as worth Rs10 lakh in the statement. As a co-incidence, her father was the chief executive (CEO) and vice president of MHADA between 2000-02 and 2004-05. Even this plot is worth over Rs50 lakh as per the current market price.
As per the statement filed by Dr Khobragade, out of her 11 properties, she purchased only four, while rest were either inherited or gifted or transferred by her father over the years. Besides, a flat in Adarsh CHS and plot in Alibag, Dr Khobragade also purchased a flat measuring 500 sq ft at Kanchanwadi in Aurangabad district for Rs7 lakh and a plot of 200 sq metres at Swarna Nagari Greater Noida in Gautam Buddha Nagar district, Uttar Pradesh for Rs20 lakh. According to the statement, she bought the Swarna Nagari plot by selling a house at Gurgaon from Ansal Building. But there is no value attached to her Ansal Building house in the statement.
For three agriculture lands, Dr Khobragade inherited from her father and from which she earns an annual income of Rs70,000, there is no purchase value mentioned. This includes 25-acre land at Gowardhan village in Chandrapur district, 8-acre land at Gawahne village in Ratnagiri district and 2-acre land in Kalamb village in Raigad district.
Dr Khobragade earns highest revenues of Rs1.20 lakh during FY2012 from a flat measuring 800 sq ft at Kondwa in Pune that was purchased by her father in 1995 and as of March 2012 was valued at Rs25 lakh.
Uttam Khobragade also gifted two land parcels measuring 2.02 and 2.7 ares in Ernakulam district of Kerala to his daughter on 20 December 2011. Present value of these two plots is shown as Rs16.35 lakh in the statement submitted by Dr Khobragade to MEA. Mr Khobragade also transferred a plot measuring 3.97 ares (9.805 Cents) in Pallipuram village in Kerala to his daughter's name on 2 January 2009. This is valued at Rs5 lakh.
Here is the statement of immovable property returns of Dr Khobragade as on 31 March 2012…
According to a report from Indian Express, Uttam Khobragade's name had also figured in the Adarsh CHS scam and he was accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of helping the CHS use higher floor space index (FSI) than permitted by allegedly transferring an adjoining plot reserved for a BEST bus depot to Adarsh. “He and Devyani, it was alleged, had got a flat each in the society as quid pro quo. Khobragade, who had denied any wrongdoing in the case, Wednesday said he and Devyani would not return the apartments. Devyani, who already owned a house in Mumbai — which too was allotted under the state government's 10 per cent quota — got the Adarsh flat after she applied for it,” the newspaper said.
Uttam Khobragade, who was the general manager (GM) of Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Undertaking (BEST), on 15 December 2007 introduced AC buses in Mumbai by labelling them as King Long buses. These so-called King Long buses that used to cost Rs40 to Rs45 lakh at that time were not even made in China but in our own Mohali and that too by a local manufacturer using few parts from the Chinese company.
According to a report in Mumbai Mirror, the King Long buses, sold to commuters as top-of-the-line Chinese import, were not King Long buses at all. “The purple buses you see breaking down every now and then have nothing to do with the Chinese bus maker Xiamen King Long United Automotive Co, except a mechanical part here and there. The rickety clunkers that have given the usually efficient BEST a bad name are Cerita buses put together by an Indian company JayCee Coach Builders (JCBL) at Lalru, Mohali in Punjab,” the newspaper said.
During the inauguration ceremony on 15 December 2007, both the then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Uttam Khobragade, the then GM of BEST referred to these buses as King Long, says Mumbai Mirror. For years Mumbai had been sold the lie of these haphazardly put-together vehicles with a ridiculously high incidence of breakdowns—4,037 in two-and-a-half years for 285 buses—boasting of a Chinese lineage, the newspaper report said.
Khobragade, the then GM of BEST when these AC buses were introduced in services, told the newspaper that since the matter is too old, he can't remember the specifics.
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