Architect PK Das in a meeting with Standing Committee Chairperson Rahul Shewale and other BMC officials on April 23 pointed out irregularities in the functioning of the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), forcing officials to answer difficult questions regarding the violation of rules and misuse of allotted open spaces in the city.
“The developer is carrying out construction work on government land opposite Club Millennium in Juhu besides the Irla nullah. They are also building a slab over the nullah, thereby covering it up. This could lead to flooding in the area,” said Das. He alleged that the authorities were hand-in-glove with the developer who is floating bogus documents.
When contacted, Shewale said that the SRA had given permissions for construction on the reserved Recreation Ground (RG) plot, which was not allowed. “The SRA had approved the plans to develop the said RG plot, which was later found to be situated on the nullah. And now a slab is being built over it, which is not permitted. Nothing is allowed to be built over a nullah and we have sent a notice to halt construction work,” said Shewale.
Shewale further admitted that since Das has brought to their attention the fact that the developer has engulfed the areas surrounding the nullah, they will take action immediately. “There has to be an open space of six metres besides any nullah for authorities to undertake service work. While we have learnt that the BMC had given permission for the developer to build the slab some years ago and it was only being taken up now, something has gone wrong. We cannot let this happen again,” said Shewale.
The Irla nullah has been known to undergo waterlogging in the past and a slab over the drain is likely to cause additional chaos in the upcoming monsoons. “The nullah cannot be closed as it lets out excess water, preventing flood situations. We had cleared the encroachments and rehabiliated the slumdwellers, but now some other work is being carried out in this area. So what was the point of the whole exercise,” said Shewale.
Sunday MiD DAY was unable to get a reaction to the allegations from SRA chief executive Officer S Zende, S Vhatkar, BMC chief engineer (Storm Water Drain), said, “Piling work has been going in the nullah besides the club by the civic body, while on the opposite side SRA work is underway. We will look into the matter.”