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Losing the 'plot': SRA miscalculates, gifts builder 92% cemetery land!

While rules state that the builder has to return 25 per cent of a cemetery plot that goes into redevelopment, the Slum Rehabilitation Authority’s FSI calculation let Omkar Realtors give only 8 per cent in a Malad project

There are some officials at the Slum Rehabilitation Authority, who seem to think FSI applies to a cemetery as well. In a slum redevelopment project in Malad (East), the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) did some innovative calculations and let the builder keep a big chunk of land, which was originally a cemetery, to himself.

Ongoing construction of the project on the Western Express Highway in Malad (East). File pic
Ongoing construction of the project on the Western Express Highway in Malad (East). File pic

The project in question is Omkar Alta Monte, being developed by Omkar Realtors. The builder had acquired a plot of 46,993 sq metres for his project, which included the rehabilitation of 15,000 slums built on it. A part of the land was a Hindu cemetery admeasuring 5,987.60 square metres.

According to Appendix 4 of the Development Control Rules 33 (10), a developer who utilises cemetery land for redevelopment is supposed to return 25 per cent of the original plot area after the project. This means for the above plot, Omkar Realtors had to give back 1,496.90 square metres to the SRA.

However, the SRA’s calculations told Omkar they only had to give 498.99 square metres — this means the builder would give back only 8 per cent of the original cemetery plot, instead of the mandated 25 per cent, keeping a mammoth 92 per cent for himself.

The matter was raised by local corporator Gyanmurti Sharma in the Improvements committee meeting last year, after the information was revealed in reply to an RTI application filed by a citizen. Even the chairman of the committee had filed a report (copy with MiD DAY) stating there were discrepancies in the size of the cemetery.

The matter went all the way up to the state assembly, when MLA Abhijit Adsul, from Daryapur in Amravati, asked Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan about the matter. The CM replied that the builder had been asked to give a buildable area of 1,496.97 square metres. But, the RTI reply states the SRA has specified an area of 498.99 square metres.

Calculations
When asked about the anomaly, a senior official from SRA defended the move, giving a strange explanation that authorities had factored in the FSI of 3 granted to Omkar Realtors. According to them, if the buildable area is thrice the area of the plot (FSI of 3), the same applies to a cemetery as well.

He said, “The rules state that we should ask for buildable area, which includes FSI. Hence, while calculating the area for the cemetery that the developer would return, we divided the area by 3.” However, SRA authorities forgot that while homes can be factored by FSI, a cemetery cannot exist vertically.

Applying the FSI rule to it would simply be absurd. Nirmal Kumar Deshmukh, the chief executive officer of SRA, clarified, “We have asked the builder to give the full 1,496.90 square metres to us. We will see to it that such things aren’t repeated.”

The other side
An official response from Omkar Realtors is as follows: “The initial approved plot area was showing an area of 498 square metres with the plan to have a built-up usable space of 1,500 square metres. However, this had become a subject of interpretation.

So, the company went ahead (in the second half of 2013) and submitted a revised plan showing a clear area of 1,500 square metres to curb any misinterpretation arising out of the previous plan, which stands covered by the old DCR norms. The earmarked area for the Hindu cemetery as per legal guidelines is 1,500 square metres and Omkar Realtors & Developers Pvt Ltd has not reduced the same in any manner.”

The project
46,993 square metres: Total area of the land
4: Number of buildings in the project
2: Of the above 4, two shall be for rehabilitation of slum dwellers and the other two will be sold by the builder to recover his cost

5,987.60 sq m
Original area of the Hindu cemetery

1,496.97 sq m
Area Omkar Realtors was supposed to give to SRA

498.99 sq m
Area given by Omkar Realtors after SRA’s calculation

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