About 3.05 lakh square feet of total constructed area in south Mumbai is lying vacant. The properties, worth Rs 270 crore, are mired in controversies such as the usage of extra floor space index (FSI) and the illegal occupation of recreation ground (RG).
The disputed areas accommodate four highrise buildings, situated in prime locales such as Malabar Hill, Pedder Road, Nariman Point and Mahalaxmi. At an average of Rs 8,500 per sq ft, these buildings have all the elements of a dream house.
One of the four buildings is an eight-storey building at Mahalaxmi, opposite Crossword, which has been lying vacant for the last 15 years.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had stalled construction of the building when they discovered that it was built on an area reserved for a recreation ground.
While the 30,000 sq ft area of the building is lying vacant, builder Tejraj Govani of Govani Developers hasnt even demolished the illegally constructed building.
It will be very expensive to demolish the entire building, and as no form of construction will be allowed on the plot, we decided to leave it, said a spokesperson for Govani Developers.
The people, who had chosen to buy flats in Pratibha building near Pedder Road, never imagined that they were getting a raw deal. The building had excess FSI, as a result of which the builder had to demolish the floors that didnt have permission. While there was permission for only 36 floors, 42 floors had been constructed.
Buyers included celebrities such as Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle. Mangeshkar sold her 3,700 sq ft flat for about Rs 1 crore in 1992, when she realised that the building would take several years to see the light of day, said S G Maheshwari, chairman of Estate Agents Association, who was involved in the sale of her flat.
Anant Desai, one of the several buyers who invested in Pratibha said, I had bought a duplex flat on the 30th floor, without knowing that the floor was built illegally. Later the floor was demolished, but I never got back my money.
The 10-storey Divya Prabha at Nariman Point and the 21-storey Om Sadan at Narayan Dhabolkar Road are two other buildings in the same soup. Om Sadan too is caught in a situation where the builders used extra FSI and the construction had to be stopped.
The buyers of the legal floors then appealed to the high court to allow them to demolish the extra floors.
A court receiver was appointed, allowing the buyers of the legal flats to collect money for the demolition of the illegal floors. Recently, tenders were floated so that construction could be resumed, said S K Deora, a purchaser in Om Sadan.
Divya Prabha, currently owned by the Reliance Group, is dogged by a number of issues, which include dues yet to be paid to the buyers, co-promoters, etc.
When we bought the building, we thought we would sort out the problems. But, we finally sold it as it was a loss-making investment, said a spokesperson from developer N L Mehtas firm, which has sold the building to Reliance.
Where: Narayan Dabholkar Road
Space locked: 1.15 lakh sq ft
Construction began: 1980
Reason for abandonment: Extra FSI
Space locked: 30,000 sq ft
Construction began: 1986
Reason for abandonment: Was built illegally on land reserved as a recreation ground
Where: Pedder Road
Space locked: 1.20 lakh sq ft
Construction began: 1982
Reason for abandonment: Builder constructed eight floors illegally Divya Prabha
Where: Nariman Point
Space locked: 40,000 sq ft
Construction began: 1980
Reason for abandonment: Excess FSI was used Pics: Santosh Harhare