Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has granted permission to regularise the structures on payment of penalties; an RTI query had revealed the illegal alterations
The Nanavati Hospital will have to pay a penalty to the tune of Rs 10 lakh in order to get illegal alterations on its fourth floor regularised. This information has come to light after an activist filed an RTI query.
Nanavati Hospital was started in 1950 by Ratilal Nanavati in memory of his grandfather, who was the physician to a royal family. Pic/Nimesh Dave
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has now granted permission to regularise the structures provided the hospital pays penalties as per rules.
M N Karalkar, an activist, filed the RTI query, and claims the fourth floor is illegal. A hospital spokesperson wrote to mid-day saying that it is completely legal barring a few alterations.
A letter issued by the BMC’s Development Planning department to the then under secretary of the Urban Development (UD) department clearly mentions: ‘This hospital building has a main building comprising a ground + part of third floor and other ancillary annex buildings interconnected to each other by common passage.’ Based on this 2002 letter, Karalkar has claimed that part of the third floor and the entire fourth floor of the building is illegal. Besides, he has quoted a 2014 report by a structural engineer stating that the hospital only consists of three floors.
Karalkar wrote several letters in 2015 to the chief minister, municipal commissioner, chief fire officer, building proposal department, etc, questioning why action was not being taken.
According to documents accessed by mid-day, the hospital administration had admitted that some changes were made to the fourth floor without prior approvals.
A letter dated July 9, 2015, by the hospital administration to municipal commissioner Mehta states, “During these 65 years, there are certain internal changes in the existing building carried out to meet demands of western suburbs, so as to facilitate modernisation. In some cases, this was done without prior approval. It is an error on our behalf that we have carried out the internal changes without informing the Corporation. We request you to condone the same as per procedures laid down in MMC Act.”
To this, Mehta had asked for details. The building proposal department then submitted a detailed report to Mehta on December 5, 2015, in the matter where a point-by-point response was given to Karalkar’s queries.
Here the department has said, “The Licenced Surveyor (hospital) has requested to regularise the internal additions and alterations carried out in the main hospital building by paying penalty.”
The report bears a remark by the chief engineer (DP) on December 9, 2015 that says, “The work which is already carried out will have to be regularised by charging penalty.” Mehta has remarked saying, ‘approved as proposed.’
The hospital will now have to pay Rs 10.6 lakh as penalty. Since it is a charitable trust, it is only being charged 10 per cent penalty.
Asked about the fourth floor of the hospital not having an Occupation Certificate, and part of the third floor not having OC, the spokesperson of Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital (NSSH) wrote in an email reply, “Hospital’s main building was constructed in 1951; at that time, the approvals were granted through the approved plans. Further at the time of various amendments in structure, NSSH has obtained relevant approvals (Year 1976, 1978, 1979, 1983, etc). In fact, the new buildings constructed have received the Part OC in 2004 and Work Completion Certificate in 2008. NSSH has a valid Nursing Home Licence and all other ancillary licences, which are issued after strict and comprehensive auditing of all facilities.”
Asked if there are illegal alterations on the fourth floor, the spokesperson wrote, “The fourth floor was constructed and approved in 1983. Any work carried out on the fourth floor thereafter was repairs, painting and polishing. However, the BMC officers, while issuing the IOD approval, have inspected the entire hospital and would regularise by charging penalty in relation to any variation to the approved plan, if any.”
Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “The Development Control Regulations are clear about what can be regularised and what cannot. If the hospital’s case falls under that purview, we can grant permission. That is the general rule. But I don’t remember this particular case. I will have to check with the concerned officials.”
Karalkar has listed a host of other illegalities by the hospital such as no NOCs from fire brigade or health department.
Regarding the canteens, the spokesperson wrote, “The Hospital canteens/pantries only cater to patients admitted in the Hospital and do not sell food to either its staff or patient’s relatives. NSSH has been issued a licence by FDA and the BMC licence is applied for and is being processed.”
“My only concern is that the patients will suffer. What if there is a calamity like a fire tomorrow? Wouldn’t patients and their relatives be trapped inside? Why isn’t the BMC taking action in this matter? The hospital doesn’t have any permissions and now they are planning to construct a new building,” Karalkar said.
Action taken by BMC
The only action taken in the matter of illegal alterations was by the BMC’s health department and the Building and Factory (B and F) department. A notice dated January 15, 2015, was sent by the B and F department to the hospital. It pointed out ‘unauthorised additions/ alterations on part of the fourth floor of the main building, Nanavati Hospital.’ However, it does not state that the floor is illegal.
A notice was sent by the Health Department in 2015, since the hospital has several canteens and cooking areas created without permission.
However, soon after receiving the notices, the hospital approached the BMC’s Building Proposal (BP) Department to get the alterations regularised. An inspection was done by the ward office, as well as officials from the BP department, wherein it was confirmed that there had been alterations. A report was then submitted to Mehta more than a month ago and the commissioner allowed regularisation of the portions, provided the hospital pays a penalty.