The construction of a gymkhana in the iconic Dr NA Purandare Stadium in Dadar (East) is on in full swing, with the earlier structure recently demolished. But there is a big but! Documents accessed by mid-day show that the contractor is yet to get the all-important approval from the building proposal department for the project, which is mandatory for any construction work or project proposed in the city.
Response to an RTI application filed by mid-day has revealed that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has shown that the gymkhana being constructed in the stadium is for a "hospital or educational institution", in a bid to get permissions easily, as the Bombay High Court had put a ban on any new construction in the city last year, barring for the above mentioned purposes.
The contractor, KK Thorat, was issued a work order on December 29, 2016, after which, in mid-March, the old stadium was demolished for reconstruction.
'Save the stadium'
Residents and locals are opposing BMC's move of constructing the posh gymkhana on the grounds that it could lead to restricted entry for locals and reduce the play area. Locals have formed the 'Purandare Bachao Samiti' to draw support from sportspersons.
On March 29, 2016, HC had banned all new constructions in the city citing BMC's failure to solve the problem of dumping grounds. However, the court order in not applicable to redevelopment of old and dilapidated buildings, slum redevelopment projects and construction of and for hospitals and educational institutions. This month, the BMC and Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry had approached the court to get the ban lifted, as many projects have been stalled, but HC refused to grant relief.
The ground is spread over 27,000 sqm; after the project, the play area will be reduced to 13,110 sqm. File Pic
True or false?
In the case of Purandare stadium, the civic body sought permission from the building proposal department by saying that the construction would be for a hospital or educational institution.
An excerpt of the letter (dated April 5, 2017) sent to deputy chief engineer of the department's special cell by deputy municipal architect of garden cell states, "Regarding the High Court order… dated 29-03-16, the user department for the said building is dean of KEM Hospital, and the proposed structure will be used by the hospital's trainee doctors. So you are requested to consider this building proposed to be constructed for the hospital or educational institution."
Expressing shock over the revelation, Dhiren Khanolakar of 'Purandare Bachao Samiti' said, "How can work start if they are still awaiting the department's approval? This is illegal. The gymkhana is not for a hospital or educational institute. The BMC is twisting facts to seek approval."
"Recently, the contractor came to start the construction, but we told him not to do anything unless we meet the municipal commissioner. Also, every time, the contractor and engineers come with new plans, and when we ask them which one of them is the final one, they seem clueless," he added.
Cut down to half
mid-day had first reported (April 3) about the civic body's proposal of constructing the gymkhana at a cost of Rs 11.46 crore for the recreation of KEM doctors. The plan includes a two-storey structure housing a multipurpose hall, squash hall, dining hall, restaurant and other things. Besides this, it will have a court for lawn tennis, a basketball court and parking area for members. The garden cell is executing the work for KEM Hospital, which owns the ground. According to the civic body's plan, the ground is spread over 27,000 sqm; after the project, the play area will be reduced to 13,110 sqm.
BMC chief clarifies
Municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, "We are going ahead with the project. Green spaces will be maintained, jogging tracks will be kept as they are, and there will be no reduction in the ground area. We are repairing the stadium just to upgrade the facilities. It is for the doctors of KEM. Local citizens will be covered and there will no restriction on entry."
When asked about pending approval from the building proposal department and HC ban on new construction, he added, "All approvals have been taken for the project. It may be old documents that are showing pending approval. The corporation does nothing without approval; we don't do anything in violation of rules."
RTI documents show that the plan for the project has the signatures of KEM hospital dean Avinash Supe, the deputy municipal architect and the contractor's architect, but it also states 'subject to BP approval', clearly showing that all is not in order.
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