'Stop work on SRA building'

Coastal Zone Management Authority asks SRA to explain why it did not insist on CRZ permissions while granting the commencement certificate to Ackruti

After MiD DAY's report last month ('Builder erected 20 storeys despite permission for 15', November 18) on how the construction firm behind the slum rehabilitation scheme at Bandra (W) had breached coastal zone regulations, coastal authorities have pulled up the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) for permitting the construction without the requisite clearances.

Breach tower: The slum rehab building erected under the Mount Mary
redevelopment scheme had permission for 15 storeys, but the builder,
Ackruti (now Hubtown), constructed 20, revealed an RTI application.
File pic

This reporter is in possession of a letter dated November 17, which was sent to the SRA by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), asking it specific questions on why it did not insist on CRZ permissions while granting the commencement certificate to the developer.

Last month, this paper had reported about the RTI application that revealed that Ackruti builders, now renamed Hubtown, had constructed a 20-storey rehabilitation building at Mount Mary Road (as part of the Mount Mary redevelopment scheme) despite having permission for 15 floors.

In September this year, Environment Secretary and MCZMA Chairman Valsa Nair had issued a notice to the builder (copy with MiD DAY) to stop the construction immediately.

Finally on November 17, MCZMA wrote to the CEO of SRA, directing him to tender a detailed response on various alleged irregularities and issues related to the redevelopment that has nearly 500 slum dwellers and a total area of 36,000 sq m, including the saleable and rehab properties.

Give ATR
The letter states, "The matter was (regarding CRZ permissions) discussed in the 72nd meeting of MCZMA held on November 4, wherein the authority noted that the developer has started and almost completed the construction work of the rehab building without obtaining final CRZ permission from the Environment Ministry.

"The SRA also issued a commencement certificate (CC) on 18.11.2006 to the developer without insisting on MoEF's CRZ permissions. Further, despite the stop work notice dated 2.9.2011 issued to the developer by MCZMA, construction work is being carried out by the developer, therefore you are directed to ensure the compliance of the stop work notice and send the action taken report to the authority within 15 days from the receipt of this letter. Further you are also directed to submit the clarification on non-insistence of CRZ permission from MoEF while granting CC to the project."

Officials say
While MCZMA chairman Valsa Nair chose not to comment on the issue, CEO of SRA, SS Zende, asked us to talk to his deputy for details. His deputy, B Patil, said he wasn't aware of the letter and said he would check with his executive engineer. The executive engineer, A Rao, said, "I would check whether the authority has received the letter or not."

This paper's e-mail asking the builder, Ackruti/Hubtown, about the allegations made by MCZMA elicited no response till the time of going to press.

All talk, no action
The tenant of the 20-floor slum rehab building who filed the RTI query and unearthed the breach, Christopher Rane, said that though the MCZMA letter carries some weight, he wasn't sure whether there would be any action against anyone responsible for the construction of the five extra floors.
"There have been so many letters going back and forth but no action has ever been initiated. Now, after the letter in which MCZMA clearly states that the builder hadn't obtained CRZ clearance, strict action should be taken against those found guilty."

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