Navi Mumbai, the satellite town of Mumbai and the largest planned township in the world, with a horizon of 344 sq km, has a rather ugly face, too.
A recent Right To Information (RTI) query has revealed that more than 650 establishments in Navi Mumbai — commercial, residential and shopping malls — are illegal. The builders have occupied 40 per cent extra FSI in all establishments.
On Friday, city-based lawyer, Mayura Maru, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court demanding action on the establishments, City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) and the police.
“I have filed a petition against builders and authorities who have cheated the public and the government. The builders have occupied more FSI and are hand-in-glove with CIDCO and the NMMC officials. The establishment should be punished,” said Maru.
Sunil Kumar, an NRI and proprietor of SK Brothers, which invests in real estate, exposed the scam last month. Two years ago, Kumar booked 12 flats in several buildings at Palm Beach, Vashi. He demanded the original plans of the buildings from the builders, but they did not oblige. Kumar became suspicious and demanded the plans’ copies through the RTI Act from CIDCO and NMMC. He was shocked to see that the original plans were different than the ones that were being constructed. Each of the builders had occupied 40 per cent extra FSI.
“I was shocked to see that all builders — including those who built the In Orbit Mall, City Centre Mall, Palm Beach Galleria Mall, Fortune Hotel and Shreeji Heights — have violated FSI norms. They have constructed 40 per cent more than the FSI granted to them. That’s when I decided to collect information of all buildings in Navi Mumbai,” said Kumar.
Kumar filed a series of RTI applications and received copies of plans of all buildings. This time, he was even more shocked to see that all the builders involved had constructed structures using more carpet area than what is permitted.
“I spent Rs seven lakh asking for sanction plans (Occupancy Certificates) of various buildings in Navi Mumbai. When I compared them to the actual built-up area, I found several irregularities. Their Occupancy Certificates are totally different from their marketing brochures,” added Kumar.
Then, Kumar complained to the NMMC Commissioner, Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner, Chief Minister and Home Minister in Mantralaya but no action was taken. Kumar, who is responsible for the demolition of the high-rise, Green Heritage, claims that a top cop and high-ranking official from the NMMC have begun threatening him.
CIDCO, however, denied any wrongdoing concerning the constructions. “I am not aware about the PIL. If buildings will be identified in our (CIDCO) area, we will look into the matter,” said Tanaji Santre, managing director, CIDCO. “I have not read the petition. Once I get the copy, I will react to it,” said NMMC Commissioner, Bhaskar Wankhede.
In spite of several attempts, Bharat Bhai, owner of City Centre and Shreeji Heights, did not respond to this reporter’s calls and text messages. Vijay Gajra’s (owner of Palm Beach Galleria Mall) mobile phone was switched off, too.
“I am not the right person to comment on the issue. I will forward your query to the concerned authority. They will contact you soon,” said Shrikant Damodlekar, Manager of Fortune Hotel.