While the BMC is working to demolish the illegally built Crown Vet, its sister organisation has been quietly supplying power and water to the SoBo pet clinic, revealed an RTI probe
Crown Vet's demolition has been stayed while the matter is being heard in court. File Pic
Even as the BMC fights to bring down Crown Vet, it's right hand - sister organisation Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking - has been illegally supplying power and water to the south Mumbai pet clinic.
mid-day was the first to report last month that the posh facility is facing demolition after the BMC found that it had been built illegally under Mahalaxmi bridge without required permissions. Built by the prince of Baroda's royal family Pratapsinh Gaekwad and his wife Pragyashree Gaekwad, the clinic had already been demolished once in March 2016 but was rebuilt and opened last April.
Documents from BEST, accessed through RTI (Right to Information), reveal a shocking con - on paper, Crown Vet is registered as a customer of BEST since the last 28 years, and has had an electricity connection since 1979. This, despite the fact that Crown Veterinary Services Private Limited itself was formed only in 2015.
Ironically, this was brought to light by one of Crown Vet's former clients, Colaba resident Nandini Suchde, who lost her pet during treatment at the clinic. She complained about the issue to BEST general manager Jagdish Patil.
"This is a clear case of corruption to support an unauthorised structure. If records show that Crown Veterinary Services Private Limited was formed in 2015 then how come BEST is stating that it has been a customer since 1979?" she asked.
She added, "According to the documents provided by the BEST, one more lie of Crown Vet has been exposed. The company maintains that it is a clinic, but according to the BEST records, the power supply is being provided to a mortuary. I met the GM of BEST and, after hearing my complaint, he assured me of an inquiry in the matter."
In response to another RTI query filed by Suchde, the local ward office (G-south) clarified that gala numbers 25 to 28 (where the clinic is located) do not have water connection.
"This means Crown Vet has illegal water connection, as BMC has denied any legal water connection," said Suchde.
The galas in which the hospital is located fall under the VLT (vacant land tenement) category. As per the rules, these cannot be subleased and commercial use of the land is not allowed.
Last month, the G-south ward (Worli, Mahalaxmi) had issued a demolition order against the hospital after failed to furnish documents to prove there had been no unauthorised construction. However, the demolition was stayed and it is currently sub-judice, as the company moved the court, claiming that they did not get enough time to respond to the BMC's notice.
When contacted, BEST general manager, Jagdish Patil, said, "I have ordered officials to conduct an investigation in the matter. If it is illegal then we will take action."
Despite repeated attempts to contact Pratapsinh Gaekwad, he remained unavailable for comment.