Another Campa Cola in Mumbai?

May 05, 2013, 08:42 IST | Shailesh Bhatia and Varun Singh

Under the guise of conducting repairs, builder illegally constructs 22 extra flats in Parel House building near KEM Hospital; 2011 BMC report clearly terms the original structure dilapidated and susceptible to mishap

Amid uncertainty looming over the fate of illegally constructed buildings such as the apartments at the Campa Cola Compound in Worli and building collapses across the city, it is Parel’s turn to tell another grim tale of real estate malpractice. Documents available with SUNDAY MiD DAY have revealed shocking facts about a building called Parel House, opposite KEM Hospital in Parel. Under the guise of repairs, an entire storey of 22 flats has been added to the existing dilapidated structure of the building and is reportedly being sold for crores of rupees.

The fourth floor of the building, Parel House, near KEM Hospital in Parel, is illegal and is a threat to the already dilapidated structure. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Mahesh Vengulkar, a local activist, has obtained various incriminating documents about the structure under the RTI Act since 2011 (SMD has the copies). “The building is very old and was purchased for R 3 crore by a builder some years ago. Under the guise of carrying out repairs to the dilapidated structure, an unauthorised fourth floor was added to it and individual flats are being sold in the market for around Rs 7 crore each,” alleged Vengulkar.

The builder is allegedly selling 22 illegal flats at Parel House near KEM Hospital for Rs 7 crore each. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

Out of 22 under-construction flats on the illegal fourth floor, added Vengulkar, eight flats are allegedly complete and occupied. “The builder owes the government over Rs 43 crore as Property Tax as per notices put up on the building last December. We are demanding a fresh structural audit from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and are sure that the building will be deemed unfit for habitation and its occupants will be rendered homeless,” said Vengulkar. He added that it was surprising how the builder constructed an illegal floor and flats in spite of the numerous complaints made over the years.

SMD has a 2011 structural report of architect and engineer Sanjeev Pawar, who was appointed by the BMC. It states that during his inspection, he discovered that the work being carried out on the fourth floor was unauthorised and compromised the structure’s safety. “It was observed that columns of the ground floor, which houses Aditi Hotel, is dilapidated and cannot bear the load of the additional floor and would invariably lead to an accident of great magnitude,” said Pawar in his report. When contacted on Saturday, he claimed he had no idea that additional flats were being added on the illegal fourth floor after his report’s submission in 2011. 

Abhijit Pawar, (JE) F South Ward said that the BMC had taken all necessary action to demolish the building’s illegal structures. “The builder had approached the City Civil Court in 2011, which directed that status quo be maintained till the first month of 2012, which has been evidently violated (SMD has a copy of his official report).  I have already given my statements to the local police and Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act initiated against the erring builders Parvez Mohammad, Farhad Supariwala and Fizam Supariwala. We are just waiting for the final approval from the court to carry out the demolition,” he said.

The other side
When contacted Fizam Supariwala, one of the builders mentioned in the BMC report, claimed that all the work carried out by them was initiated only after getting the requisite permission from the repair board of the Maharashtra government. “There are no illegal structures or additional floors constructed on site. We have only repaired the existing building which was in very bad shape,” he said. 

40 per cent Mumbai homes don’t have OC: MSWA chief

Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association chairman Ramesh Prabhu says 12,000 of the 30,000 societies registered under MSWA do not have occupation certificates

Nearly 40 per cent of all housing societies in the city do not actually have occupation certificates (OC), much like the now infamous Campa Cola Compound in Worli. Speaking exclusively to SUNDAY MiD DAY, Maharashtra Societies Welfare Association (MSWA) chairman Ramesh Prabhu said at least 12,000 of the 30,000 housing societies registered under the MSWA, do not have an OC. Moreover, at least 10,000 buildings pay their water bills only twice a year.

MSWA is the apex body of all the housing societies in Maharashtra, with more than 30,000 societies registered with them. According to Prabhu, nearly 2,000 of these buildings are in the island city and the rest spread across the central and western suburbs.

According to real estate sources, there are very few buildings in Mumbai that do not have a problem pending before the BMC. Prabhu demanded to know why the Worli society has to face the demolition squad whereas illegal buildings in Thane and Ulhasnagar can be regularised. “It’s easy to say that homebuyers should have made proper investigations before buying a flat. But can any department tell us whether the land is clear or not, whether any litigation or misuse of FSI or any other such problem exist on the land?” he asked.

Prabhu says all illegal buildings need not be necessarily demolished and instead some other way should be thought about. According to him, the state legislature will have to frame a humane policy to deal with unsafe buildings first, before demolishing sound structures such as the Campa Cola buildings. 

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