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BMC stops construction of residential building near Arthur Road jail

Mumbai's civic body, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has issued an order to a subsidiary of real-estate giant DB Realty to stop work on an under-construction residential project close to Arthur Road jail, which houses 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Qasab as well as many other criminals.

The order dated September 1 issued the stop-work order to Shanti Nagar Ventures for its project, Orchid View. Shanti Nagar Ventures is a 100% subsidiary of DB Realty Ltd, owned by Shahid Balwa and Vinod Goenka, both of whom are co-accused in the 2G scam.

The BMC has claimed that the order was passed in the interest of jail security since the construction site was within 150 m of the jail boundary.

Arthur Road Jail
Arthur Road Jail.

The developrs received a no-objection certificate (NOC) for their project from the Maharashtra government’s home department in August 2009, but it was granted on the condition that no work could begin until the final order was issued in the 26/11 trial.

However, the developers have already started construction work and it has even reached plinth level. Further, the BMC observed certain changes in the construction plans, which ld to the civic authorities refusing to give the builder permission to continue construction. The BMC has also reported the matter to the Agripada police station.

The BMC's grounds for refusing permission was that building was to commence with Wing C, but instead began with Wing A, as specified in the home department’s NOC.

Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh, who is pursuing the matter, told MiD DAY that the builders were flouting rules of the home department’s NOC.

Singh told MiD DAY, “Despite the fact that the final order in the Ajmal Qasab case has yet to come from the Supreme Court, and the remedy of Presidential pardon is still pending. Also the case of Abu Jundal, another main accused in the 26/11 terror case is yet to start. It is noteworthy that the state government’s home department had given the NOC only on condition that the work on the ‘sale’ building could not commence till after the final order of 26/11 trial was handed out. This building could have been a security risk to the prison.”

Clarifying their position, a DB Realty spokesperson admitted that the home department had certain clauses while given the NOC, but maintained that they were well within their rights to commence work.

The spokesperson said, “There were some conditions imposed by the home department for the duration of Qasab’s trial due to security reasons and the sensitivity of the case. Based on the commencement certificate that we received earlier, we have completed the construction of the plinth and have now applied for a commencement certificate to continue building.

“Since Qasab’s trial is over, the conditions imposed by the home department no longer apply. However, the BMC was not sure whether the trial was over. Accordingly, we made an RTI query, to which the the office of the police commissioner clarified that the first witness in the trial of Qasab was called on May 8, 2009, and the decision came on May 6, 2010. We have submitted this response to the MCGM, which we believe will satisfy them that the trial of Qasab is over and we are now awaiting a new commencement certificate.”  

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