Mumbai: Shop comes up in car lift on busy Bandra road!
In the heart of a city starved for space, one man’s unbridled greed has deprived a car park’s rightful owners of the use of parking space for 24 cars.
The car lift has been transformed into a centrally air-conditioned garments shop called Fashion Zone
Thus, while the other shop owners at a Bandra mall are forced to park their cars outside and watch them getting towed on a regular basis, one Sultan Mansuri has been minting money by converting the building’s only car lift into a garment shop, preventing them from accessing the basement parking spots each of them had paid Rs 5 lakh for.
Shop owners show the lift’s exit in the basement car park, which they cannot use any more. Pics/Rane Ashish
The Kenilworth Mall or the KFC building as it is popularly known opened for business in 2008 at one of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, the Linking Road in Bandra (W). Since the area is home to several popular pubs, restaurants and shops, finding parking space there is a nightmare.
Hence, when shop owners at the mall were given the chance to buy parking spots in the building’s basement, many of them lunged at the opportunity despite having to shell out Rs 5 lakh for each of the 24 available spaces. Zakhir Khan, who owns two garment shops in the mall, said, “Around 130 of us own 140 shops in the mall. Some members have rented their shops out.
The mall has a car park in the basement, two floors below the ground level, which can accommodate at least 24 cars. There is only one car lift, which faces the lane off Linking Road and used to carry cars up and down from the basement. In the initial years, everything was working fine.”
“Last year, Sultan Mansuri, who owns a couple of shops in the mall, illegally formed a society without the consent of other shopkeepers. Mansuri became the secretary and appointed two other men treasurer and joint secretary,” said Avinash Sonavne, who owns two shops at Kenilworth Mall. Mansuri is allegedly a well-connected man.
“The condition now is very serious. Mansuri is illegally capturing several parts of the mall, including the car lift. When the mall was opened in 2008, each parking slot was sold for more than Rs 5 lakh and the current price can be estimated at more than Rs 10 lakh,” Sonavne added.
Brains and brawn
Shop owners at the mall said that after appointing himself the secretary, Mansuri used a clever plan and intimidation to begin taking over the sole car lift. “Over the past year or so, Mansuri began taking control of the car lift.
Initially, he used it as a society office for the building. We objected a lot, but he continued to do what he was doing,” said Mohammad Arif Shirgaonkar, another shop owner. Sonavne said, “The process of converting the car lift into a fully air-conditioned garments shop was done in a very systematic manner.
Two months ago, a board was put up above the lift, which read, ‘Fashion Zone Western outfits’. Inside, the lift remained as it was. A few days later, the grills outside the lift were removed and a shutter took their place.
Work went on inside the shutter day and night and 10 days ago we were shocked to see a fully furnished, centrally air-conditioned shop for western outfits inside the car lift. From the basement, the lift is even supported with bamboo rods and planks.”
Abdul Rauf Sakharkute, another shop owner said, said, “Some other shop owners and I went inside the shop just to check. This is a very bizarre thing a shop inside a car lift. Meanwhile, we are not being able to use the car park because of it and it is just lying empty.”
Mohammad Khan, another member, said, “Mansuri is not stopping here and is continuing his illegal work. He is threatening other shop owners and, therefore, very few people are complaining about the matter.”
“We are unable to use the car lift. Linking Road is always very crowded. There is no place for car parking and we have to risk parking our cars outside despite paying lakhs for parking space,” added Khan.
Sunil Hingorani, a businessman who owns three shops in the mall said, “I face a lot of difficulty in parking my car. Despite paying for parking, we have to park our cars outside because the lift is encroached.”
Ashok Bhatia, who owns the KFC outlet in the building, “I also own parking spots in the mall but have to park my car outside. Our cars have been towed by traffic cops several times.” These views were echoed by other shop members Ahmed Jaffer and Kareem Baredia as well.
Sonavne said, “This is completely illegal. No law allows for a working car lift to be converted into a shop. We have made several complaints to BMC officials and the local Khar police, but no action has been taken. The car park in the basement, which we paid so much for, remains unused. Mansuri is even constructing another structure in the one toilet available in the mall.”
A police officer from Khar police station said, “We have received several complaints in the matter. The shop is indeed an illegal structure. However, it is a civil matter and only the BMC has the authority to demolish it. If BMC asks for police protection to be able to do so, we will provide it.”
When contacted, Assistant Municipal Commissioner Vijay Kamble of Bandra division said, “I have a lot of departments to handle, I cannot say anything just like that. I will look into the matter and comment only after doing so.” Despite repeated attempts, Sultan Mansuri was not available for comment.