A special court in Mumbai has declined bail to a sub-divisional officer (SDO) involved in a case related to the construction of a resort in Dapoli, coastal Ratnagiri district. The court ruled that the SDO knowingly assisted in the process of money laundering, PTI reported. 

According to the PTI report, SDO Jayram Deshpande was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in March of this year in connection with the construction of Sai Resort in Dapoli. Sadanand Kadam, an associate of Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Anil Parab, is also a co-accused in the case.

Special court judge MG Deshpande, responsible for cases related to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), rejected the SDO`s bail application. The court stated that there was ample evidence to demonstrate that the applicant “approved the conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural use and the construction of the resort there with full knowledge that such approval could not be legally granted.” As a result, the SDO knowingly participated in the money laundering process, the report quoted the judge as saying. 

According to the report, the ED has alleged that SDO Deshpande misused his position to unlawfully grant permission to change the status of the Sai Resort plot from “agricultural” to “non-agricultural” to enable the construction of twin bungalows. He provided consent even though he was well aware that the land falls within Coastal Regulation Zone-III (CRZ-III), where construction is prohibited.

Under the “pressure and influence” of former state minister Anil Parab, the accused passed a sanction order to grant a conditional no objection certificate (NOC) to facilitate the construction of twin bungalows at the site, according to the ED, the PTI report added.

Anil Parab and his associate Sadanand Kadam allegedly colluded with SDO Deshpande to build Sai Resort NX, causing severe environmental damage. The alleged illegal structure lacks proper outlets for the safe discharge of effluents. The ED has claimed that SDO Deshpande took no action against the illegal construction and failed to revise his permission after receiving a report from the town planner indicating that the plot was included in CRZ III and, therefore, development of any kind was not permitted. Previously, the court had denied bail to Kadam, characterizing him as a “front-man” for Parab and implicated in pressuring local officials to legalize illegal work related to the resort`s construction.

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