As Campa Cola compound’s 35 floors, with 96 flats accommodating nearly 500 people, head toward demolition, we speak with one of the building’s three developers, and its architect, to see where they think the responsibility lies. Unsurprisingly, buck-passing dominated the exchange.
We give you a verbatim record of our interaction with builder BK Gupta, and architect Jayant Tipnis. While Gupta blamed the architect and the other two builders he had partnered with for the construction, the architect held the builders responsible, completing the circle that has the building’s residents trapped. They have been restricted by the Supreme Court from filing any complaints after the order. They claim that due to the irresponsible behaviour of the architect and the builders’ mistakes, they have to lose their homes.
Nandini Mehta, spokesperson for the residents’ association and also a resident whose house will be razed after November 11, said, “Why is it that we have to suffer while the builders and the architect are being let go without any punishment, when they were the ones who sold us the apartments and gave the assurance that the plans have been submitted to BMC. We came to know through RTI that in spite of rejection of plans and in breach of BMC’s stop work notice, the builders continued construction of the complex.”
Gupta said, “I completely understand the state of Campa Cola residents as they aren’t at fault. But it’s not only me who is to be blamed. The other builders have to be held equally responsible for today’s situation.”
He continued, “Jayant Tipnis, the architect, thought that he’d be able to get the BMC to grant the builders permission to construct the higher floors, but he failed. He was the one who was to get the plans approved and it was his duty to stop Patel Constructions from going ahead and building a 17-storey structure, where FSI norm was grossly violated. Had it not been for this building, the other buildings could have been regularised.”
Summing up, he said, “It was Tipnis who did not follow up with the BMC after I paid the penalty of Rs 6.5 lakh as regularisation charges for constructing more than the sanctioned plan of five floors.”
Tipnis, however, said that he isn’t in the wrong. He said the BMC had already issued a stop-work notice, but the builders did not stop the work, adding that after a point he even resigned from the project, but had to continue since the project couldn’t get any other architect.
“I am not the one to be blamed as I had already notified the builders in writing, telling them not to proceed with construction of the floors that are in question today, because there were no permissions for them from the BMC. The BMC had asked for Rs 11 lakh for approval of the amended plan, but there was a conflict among the builders and they paid only half the amount.”
I advised them to go to court to get water connection: Builder Gupta was the one who had suggested to the residents that they approach the court to get civic water supply, thus prying the lid off the unauthorised construction.
Following the residents’ petition, the Supreme Court earlier this month said that illegal floors would be demolished and should be vacated by November 11. The building didn’t have an OC and that’s the reason for lack of a water connection. The residents have been getting tankers every day for the last 25 years.
Team of builders
A team of three builders, BY Builders Pvt Ltd (B K Gupta), PSB Constructions and Patel Constructions developed the Campa Cola compound’s seven buildings with a total of 69 floors, between 1982-1989.