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Land scarred by scams

Yesterday, this paper exposed how a top builder passed off his kin and office bearers as shanty owners, to avail of extra Floor Space Index (FSI). The sheer audacity of the scam shows that in a city where space is all, people can go to any lengths to gain that extra bit in order to make huge profits.

With the rate of real estate in the city being what it is, it is not surprising that real estate, slum redevelopment and commercial development are central to so many scandals today. The Adarsh scandal is one of the most prominent, which even cost the earlier Chief Minister his chair.

Years ago, the lung of South Mumbai, the Mahalaxmi racecourse, was about to be sold. A large chunk of the racing green was to be turned over to a developer, who wanted to convert parts of it into a golf course and a hotel.

The outrage that followed, including a save-the racecourse media blitz, eventually led to the cancellation of the project. Yet, in some time, another builder tried to get into the racecourse through the backdoor, by trying to develop some land in a defunct third enclosure near the helipad, under the guise of slum redevelopment.

Slum Redevelopment needs a strong regulatory body that can establish that the people benefiting are real slum dwellers. It is inexplicable how well-heeled persons have managed to pass off as shanty dwellers in certain cases.

Is nobody checking, or more pertinently, does nobody want to check? It is also important that errant builders are punished if they are caught, and meted out a punishment that acts as a deterrent and a warning to other aspiring redevelopment scamsters.

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