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You can't build too close to jail, criminals are at risk: Arthur Road Jail authorities to BMC

A redevelopment project near Arthur Road Jail by city-based DB Realty --, which made headlines in the 2G spectrum allocation scam -- has been given a thumbs-down by authorities at the high-security prison, citing exposure to criminals from any building that comes up a stone’s throw from the jail.

DB Realty's construction
Full stop: DB Realty’s construction at Shree Shanti Nagar next to Arthur Road Jail has been stopped by BMC. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

After the jail administrations’ veto, which came earlier this year, the BMC issued Dynamix Balwas Realty a stop-work notice for the Shree Shanti Nagar redevelopment project. It also cancelled their commencement certificate (CC) earlier this month.

 

Any construction within a 180-metre radius of the jail is prohibited. The DB Realty project is within 18 metres. Incidentally, the same project was given a stop-work order last year because 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Qasab was incarcerated in the prison.

Prison rules
In January, jail authorities wrote to BMC, stating that it shouldn’t give any further construction permissions because a new building in the vicinity would put inmates at risk. On July 9, BMC issued a letter to the developer, asking them to stop work since it was cancelling their CC for the project. In the letter (a copy of which is with this paper), the civic agency attached the jail authorities’ correspondence, which reads, “The jail has many hardened criminals and in the near future more such criminals would come here.

If a 72-storey building comes up, then from such a building everything inside the jail would be visible. There are accused of bomb blasts and terror attacks, gangsters belonging to Dawood, Chhota Rajan and Ravi Pujari gangs; even foreign nationals are locked up here. This jail is very sensitive and attacks on criminals from such high rises cannot be ruled out. Hence, Shree Shanti Nagar society shouldn’t be given permission to carry out construction activity.”

The redevelopment plan involves rehabilitating nearly 360 tenants and three rehab buildings. While two are 20-storey high, one is 22-storey tall. According to a resident of Shree Shanti Nagar, the builder planned to construct another building on the rest of the land as part of the sale component (what a builder gets to sell to recover costs and make profit, after rehabilitating existing tenants free of cost). According to sources the sale building is 56-storey tall.

“The work till plinth level has been completed. Some tenants’ houses have also been demolished, and they are currently staying on rent in nearby areas. This will obviously affect the tenants,” said a resident of Shree Shanti Nagar who didn’t wish to be named.

‘Not fair’
DB Realty CEO Vipul Bansal said in a statement to MiD DAY, “The project is for rehabilitation of around 350 occupants. The building and layout plans of the three rehabilitation towers were approved by BMC in 2010, based on the jail’s NOC.  We have already constructed up to plinth of one of the rehab buildings, based upon a valid and subsisting CC issued in 2010, and … applied to BMC for further CC beyond plinth.” 

“Now out of nowhere, the BMC has, unlawfully, asked us to obtain a revised NOC from jail authorities, despite there being a valid and subsisting jail NOC in favour of the project issued nearly three years ago. We have challenged this decision of the BMC in a writ filed in the high court. The writ is expected to be heard soon and we hope for a favorable order,” he added.

Jail officer says
DIG Vinod Lokhande (prison) said, “We have complained to all the authorities concerned about the high rise coming up within 180 metres of the jail premises.”

BMC says
S Anavkar, deputy chief engineer of the BMC’s building proposal department confirmed that the project’s CC has been cancelled but refused to comment further.

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