Residential complex at a prime plot in suburban Versova was surrounded by controversy for alleged violation of norms while building a commercial centre

Two and a half months after Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan stated that an FIR could be registered against office bearers of Patliputra Co-Operative Housing Society, the BMC has now regularised the project. The complex is owned by the nearby Patliputra Society comprising 50 members, mostly high-ranking IAS officials. The amount of fine paid by the society is not known, as no one was ready to speak to MiD DAY on the matter.

Complex problem: Permission was taken by the society to construct
small shops on a part of the 1.41-acre plot, which was converted into
a three-floor mall. File pic

The building was allowed 15 per cent area under floor space index (FSI) for commercial purposes, and developers had taken permission to build convenience shops but instead had constructed a mall Kamdhenu, which was illegal. MiD DAY had reported the issue on December 21 last year ('Another scam in commercial space norms?').

Power play
When a BMC survey pinpointed the irregularity, the civic agency gave a written complaint to Versova police, who, after 11 months, registered an FIR against Kamdhenu mall instead of lodging a case against the IAS officers who had been allotted the plot by the government for residential purposes.

The case against the mall was registered under Section 53 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act (MRTP), 1966 for carrying out construction without permission. Former IPS officer and lawyer YP Singh, who has been pursuing the case against Patliputra for a decade now, had then alleged that the police deliberately booked the mall without involving the society, which is the actual owner.

"If buildings and malls constructed illegally can be regularised so easily by paying a fine, rich builders could do it every time," said Santosh Daundkar, an RTI activist, who had raised this issue in the past."The mall should have been demolished and the IAS officers booked, but BMC has legalised it because of their clout. If it were a poor man's house, they would have demolished it then and there," Daundkar added.

Setting up shop
Patliputra Society was formed in 1999 and was allotted a 1.41-acre plot near the Four Bungalow junction in Andheri. The allotment orders were issued by the then chief minister Narayan Rane on July 9. As per rules, such societies are allowed to utilise 15 per cent of the total FSI for commercial purposes. Permission was taken to construct small shops on a part of the land, which was converted into a three-floor mall. The free-of-FSI basement, passages, lift rooms, space below the staircase were allegedly merged with the usable area of the mall.

BMC speaks
BMC Commissioner Subodh Kumar said, "The building had applied for legalisation and only after that we have taken this step. All the violations were legalised. If we had not been able to regularise it, they could have gone to court."