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Residents up in arms against illegal floors

Residents of building barely 100 metres from site of last week's collapse claim the builder had permission to construct only three floors but built two more; they have complained to the district administration and have also filed a case

The collapse of the five-storey Pitaram Complex building in Ambegaon-Narhe last week has compelled the district administration to keep a close watch on illegal structures mushrooming in the area. Just 100 metres away, residents of Sphurti Angan society are fighting a tough battle against their builder, Deepak Mane, who they allege, has constructed two unauthorised floors in their sanctioned three-storey building. The building was completed in 2013 and a court case has been going on for the past six months.

The residents of the society have put up a banner appealing to the administration to demolish the illegally constructed floors
The residents of the society have put up a banner appealing to the administration to demolish the illegally constructed floors

Despite the residents’ repeated complaints to the district administration, the authorities have failed to taken any action. The tenants are demanding that the illegally constructed floors be demolished immediately as the building has started developing cracks, making them feel unsafe.

Mane constructed Sphurti Angan on a 1,900 sq m plot. He had received permission from the district collector on November 7, 2009, to construct 28 flats on three floors. The residents claim that during this time, Mane had marked the parking, road and open spaces in the plan, but later used the free area to build 12 illegal flats. While constructing these apartments, the builder neither consulted an architect nor paid attention to the structural fitness of the building. In the space reserved for a garden, another building of four storeys has been erected in its place.

Residents woes
Sharad Kuber Patil, a society member, said, “We are facing problems like power cuts and have also spotted cracks developing in the building. The building does not even have a completion certificate since it is in violation of the rules and no tax is paid to the gram panchayat because of its illegality. We had also sent a legal notice to the builder twice, but he did not pay heed to it. For the last six months, he has been harassing and threatening us. We have registered non-cognisable complaints against him at the Dattawadi police station every time he intimidated us but that has not deterred him.”

Another resident Nandkumar Khujat said, “After the Pitaram complex incident, we are feeling unsafe and insecure in the building. We have put up a board appealing to the administration to demolish the illegally constructed floors. The administration is also dilly-dallying in taking action against the builder on the grounds that they don’t have adequate tools for demolishing the floors.”

Advocate V S Karkande, who is representing the society, said, “It is the duty of the district administration to keep a check on the illegal constructions coming up and take suitable action against the guilty. In the Sphurti Angan society case, the administration has only carried out a panchnama of the building, but it has not taken any further action.”
Tehsildar B S Kumbhar said, “We have issued a notice to the builder and we will take suitable action as soon as possible.”

The other side
When asked about the illegal construction at the site, the builder, Deepak Mane said, “We have given the flats to the residents as per the procedure. I don’t have more details off-hand.”

Bogus entries by gram panchayats

Despite the District Collector’s ban on gram panchayats giving building construction permission since 2010, a recent survey conducted by the district administration officials revealed that thousands of bogus entries have been made by several gram panchayats in the district. In Narhe gram panchayat itself, 2,838 bogus entries about the illegal constructions have been made so far.

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