Builder slapped with notice for illegal gates, hogging footpath

It appears that after the Campa Cola disaster, authorities are finally waking up to blatant violation of rules all over the city. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday sent a notice to the Sumer Group under the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act, for putting up four illegal gates for his society. The builder has also encroached a footpath and violated heritage norms in his project Sumer Heights, which is located at Girgaum Chowpatty.

Blatant violation: The huge illegal gates of Sumer Heights at Girgaum Chowpatty, with society members parking their vehicles on the footpath.  (Below) The crowded street outside the building, as there is no space left for parking. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Santosh Daundkar, an RTI activist, had lodged a complaint (copy available with MiD DAY) in February this year against the builder. According to the complaint, the developer Rahul Shah constructed Sumer Heights, a high-rise near Wilson College in Girgaum Chowpatty, but allegedly put up four additional entrances to the society. The original plan allowed for only two gates. Also, each of these four gates is bigger than is allowed, says the complaint. Moreover, the builder allowed society members to park their cars on the footpath. He had also gotten the interlocking tiles on the footpath made by the BMC removed, thereby damaging public property.

“He has also violated heritage and Coastal Regulation Zone norms. After my complaint and several follow-ups, the BMC has issued a notice to the builder under the MRTP act. The police must register an FIR against the builder for damaging public property,” said Daundkar.

The building has 13 floors, of which two floors are parking lots and the remaining are apartments. Made only a couple of years ago, it is located near Girgaum Chowpatty and its wall is extremely close to the wall of Wilson College, which is a heritage structure. The necessary permissions from the heritage committee have not been obtained. Nor has Shah sought consent of the state environment ministry for constructing a building so close to the sea.

Acting on the complaint, BMC officials visited the site and demanded the relevant documents from the builder, which he failed to produce. Officials agreed that the four additional gates did not figure on the building’s completion certificate plans. Civic authorities have asked the developer to demolish the illegal structures. According to people in the area, the builder allows only his society members to park on the road outside, despite it being a public street.

“After several people said that making gates left no space for public parking, Daundkar went ahead and lodged a complaint. There are several eateries nearby and the public was not permitted to park there. Blocking parking in front of a single gate is fine. But if several gates are made, it restricts parking on the entire stretch of the road. This problem is enormous and has been seen in many areas of Mumbai,” said Y P Singh, noted criminal lawyer.

Replying to the BMC’s notice, the builder blamed the architect, saying he had made an error and had forgotten to show all six gates in the plan. On these grounds, Shah had requested that the notice be withdrawn and the gates be allowed to remain. But on Wednesday, BMC rejected the request and issued a fresh warning notice, asking Shah to demolish the unauthorised gates within 15 days or face consequent action. Parag Masurkar, ward officer of D ward said, “We have asked our concerned department to take further action against the builder.” 

The other side
Rahul Shah, chairman of Sumer Group, said, “We remember that there was some issue related to the four gates. But I don’t remember anything about an MRTP Act notice.” 

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